Kale and avocado are a match made in heaven in this avocado kale salad with creamy basil dressing. This beautiful green salad is fresh, light and vibrant making it a perfect Spring and Summer meal but it’s hearty enough to enjoy throughout the colder months as well. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Avocado Kale Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing Recipe - Running on Real Food

Health Benefits of Basil

Basil is one of my favorite herbs and it’s also one of the healthiest herbs you can add to your diet. Basil is known to have antioxidant properties that can protect the body from aging, skin conditions and some types of cancer. It’s high in magnesium, vitamin K, iron, has antibacterial properties and has been shown to detoxify the liver. I love making salad dressings out of basil and of course, I love me some fresh basil pesto. Both dried basil and basil oil offer some of the same health benefits and even have some of their own.

Creamy Basil Dressing Recipe

Vegetables for Avocado Kale Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing

Health Benefits of Avocado

Avocado is one of my favorite superfoods. It provides monounsaturated essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and 9 that can help lower cholesterol, among many other health benefits. Avocado is also a source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health and their fiber content make them great for digestion and managing blood sugar levels. In addition, they contain vitamins C, E, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein and beta-carotene making them great for eye health. Yes, avocados are high in fat but the healthy fats they contain help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Eating healthy fats such as the ones found in avocados and nuts supports healthy skin, improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, helps reduce inflammation and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. For more information on the role healthy fats play in our health check out my post on anti-inflammatory living.

Healthy Vegan Avocado Kale Salad Recipe

Antioxidant-Rich for Disease Prevention

In addition to the fragrant basil, you’ve got the famous, disease-fighting superfood kale, along with colorful bell peppers that are packed with antioxidants. This salad is a bit high in fat, but it’s all the wonderful fat that our bodies need and thrive on. Avocado, hemp seeds and almonds provide essential fatty acids that your body and brain will thank you for. Add in the citrus from the lemon and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse of a salad packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber, everything you need to feel your best.

Kale and Avocado Salad with Vegan Creamy Basil Dressing

Vegan Avocado Kale Salad

This yummy avocado salad really doesn’t need much explaining, just chop the veggies, steam the broccoli and kale, make the dressing, top with avocado and eat!

Creamy Basil Dressing Recipe

You’ll love the fresh taste of the creamy basil dressing. The dressing recipe is made with basil, almonds, lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic, maple syrup and soft tofu for an ultra-creamy, tangy and slightly sweet dressing that brings this salad to life. A lot of the recipes online for creamy basil dressing are made with mayonnaise or Greek yogurt but I used soft tofu in this version instead. It can also be made with plain dairy-free yogurt or cashew cream as a substitute for the tofu.

My original version of this recipe actually called for 1/2 cup of olive oil but that’s a bit much for me these days so I decided to update the recipe to be oil-free. Yogurt, tofu and cashew cream all work well as a substitute for oil.

Recipe Notes

  • This recipe makes 4 large, meal-sized servings but you could make 6-8 smaller servings for a side dish. 
  • This salad is suitable for meal prep but I’d suggest storing the dressing separately and adding the avocado just before serving so the salad stays fresher.

Recipe Substitutions

This recipe is easily customizable based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Here are some swaps you can try for variations:

  • use swiss chard instead of kale
  • use walnuts, cashews or sunflower seeds in the dressing instead of almonds
  • use cilantro in the dressing instead of basil
  • sprinkle the salad with hemp seeds for some extra protein and omega-3s
  • add some chickpeas, baked tofu or tempeh to boost the protein content
  • use cauliflower instead of broccoli
  • you can use any kind of vinegar in the basil dressing recipe, try balsamic or red wine instead of apple cider

More Vegan Kale Salads

I’ve got quite the collection of kale salad recipes on the blog, so if you’re loving this one, check out:

Carrot Beet Kale Salad with Roasted Potatoes // Mediterranean Kale Salad // Roasted Potato Kale Salad // Roasted Chickpea Kale Salad // Tofu Kale Salad // Curried Roasted Cauliflower Salad

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Avocado Kale Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Entree, Salad
  • Method: Oven, Blender
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free

This filling avocado kale salad is topped with the most delicious creamy basil dressing and packed with nutritious veggies. Try it as a salad or stuff it into a tortilla to make a healthy wrap.


Ingredients

For the Creamy Basil Dressing

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (70 g)
  • 1/2 cup soft tofu (120 g)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil (30 g)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons pure maple syrup (sub raw honey (not vegan) or agave)
  • 1 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon water, plus more as needed to adjust consistency

For the Avocado Kale Salad

  • 8 cups lightly packed chopped kale (240 g)
  • 2 cups grated carrot (2 large carrots)
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli, lightly steamed
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 red pepper, diced (approx 1.5 cups)
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced (approx 1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 avocado per serving

Instructions

  1. There are two options for preparing the kale. You can either lightly steam it or massage it with olive oil to soften it. I went with a quick steam by adding chopped, washed kale (so it’s still wet) to a large skillet, covering and turning the heat on for a couple of minutes. It should be slightly softened and a nice, dark green. If massaging it, drizzle the chopped kale with a little bit of olive oil and massage with your hands until softened.
  2. Place the basil dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until completely smooth and creamy. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. Add all the chopped veggies to the kale.
  4. Pour the dressing over the kale and vegetables and mix well.
  5. Top each serving with 1/2 an avocado and a few almonds.

Keywords: healthy, plant-based