This vegan avocado corn salad is so fresh and vibrant for the summer months. It features massaged kale, creamy avocado, and sweet, grilled corn. It’s easy to prepare and perfect for sharing!
Height of summer is a wonderful time for big, vibrant, colorful bowls of salad.
With all of the transition of my recent move, I haven’t been making many salads. Storing a lot of produce, let alone washing and chopping it, is tricky with the upheaval of a move and half-unpacked kitchen. Tofurky sandwiches and pasta or frozen dinners have been much more manageable.
Still, I made this lovely grilled corn avocado salad right before I relocated, and I was so happy with it. It was my first time cooking sweet corn this season.
It was also the first time in a while that I’d gotten my hands dirty massaging kale. Kale has always been one of my favorite bases for salads. I think it’s more substantial than other salad greens. I also love its slight bitterness and its texture.
I brought the corn and kale together with lots of creamy avocado, which for me is more of a summery craving than a year-round one.
These components added up to a recipe that’s ultra seasonal, flavorful, and bright.
How to make grilled corn avocado salad
The most notable thing about this corn avocado salad is that it employs avocado in two ways.
First, some avocado gets blended into a creamy dressing. You’ll use this dressing to soften and season your chopped kale.
Avocado based salad dressings are a favorite of mine. I’m especially fond of this one (which goes well with my vegan tempeh tacos as well as the vegan panzanella salad I created it for).
Avocado imparts a richness to salad dressing that oil alone can’t provide. Plus, it’s full of good nutrition—fiber, healthful fat, Vitamin E, potassium, and more.
You can prepare the avocado-based dressing in a blender or a food processor. The remaining avocado in the corn avocado salad is chopped and added to your greens. Here’s a step-by-step of the process.
Grill your corn
The recipe calls for four ears of corn in total. They can be white corn, yellow corn, or bicolor.
It’s hard to beat the grill as a cooking vessel for fresh, sweet corn. As an apartment dweller, I don’t actually have a grill.
But I do have a grill pan, and I use it all the time, especially for summer produce. My grill pan worked very well for grilling the corn.
Before grilling, I rub the ears of corn in a little avocado oil.
Make your dressing
The dressing employs a half avocado, olive oil, vinegar and lime juice, some water, and a touch of maple syrup. I really love a hint of sweetness in otherwise tart dressings, but feel free to omit the sweetener if you like.
Cut your corn kernels from the ears of corn
The best way I’ve found to remove corn kernels from corn is to use an inverted bowl inside a larger bowl (you can check out an image of this setup here).
It makes the task easy and creates much less mess than trying to cut kernels off on an open cutting board!
Massage your kale with the dressing
I’ve made many a “massaged” kale salad since I started blogging. Every time I write “massaged kale,” it still looks funny.
“Massaging” kale is simply rubbing dressing into the kale leaves with your hands and some pressure. This not only helps to dress the kale evenly, but it also softens the kale, making it more palatable for salad.
When the kale is ready, you’ll have only to mix the corn avocado salad up. Add your corn kernels, some red onion (optional), the remaining, cut avocado pieces, and toss everything well. Adjust the salad seasoning to taste right before serving.
What type of kale should I use?
I’ve made the corn avocado salad with both curly kale and lacinato (dinosaur, or Tuscan) kale.
Curly kale is pictured above. It works very well in the salad, and it’s usually the easiest type of kale to find in stores. If you use curly kale, be sure to stem it and chop it finely for the corn avocado salad.
All things considered, though, I think my preference is for lacinato kale in the salad. It’s easy to chop this particular type of kale into thin ribbons, and I love its deep, deep green (almost a black green shade).
If purple kale is what you have, then that will work well, too. The only kale I don’t necessarily recommend is baby kale, which may be too tender to hold its own with a thick dressing and lots of creamy avocado pieces.
How long can I store corn avocado salad?
Honestly? I think that this particular salad is best enjoyed fresh.
I say this not because the greens will suffer with storage. In fact, kale salad is usually great for vegan meal prep, because kale holds up better with dressing than do more delicate salad greens.
In the case of this corn avocado salad, the issue with long storage is that the avocado will start to brown a bit with time. It will even start to brown as quickly as overnight.
This won’t affect the salad from a food safety perspective, but it can definitely impact the salad’s visual appeal.
For this reason, I recommend serving the corn avocado salad within a few hours of making it. It’s absolutely fine to prepare it in the morning and have it at lunchtime, for example.
If you need to, you can store it overnight and enjoy it the following day. You can also cut the recipe in half, so that there’s less to store, if you live on your own.
Speaking of serving, what to serve the salad with?
Nutrition clients often ask me about salads as a meal. What’s a meal-sized salad? How does one know?
I tend to feel that a meal-sized salad follows the Power Plates principle of including all macronutrient groups: a protein, a healthful fat, a source of complex carbs.
The corn avocado salad delivers on healthful fats, but it’s not especially high in protein or complex carbs. So, I’d recommend pairing it with something (or some other things) to turn it into more of a complete meal. As a side dish, it works beautifully.
Here are some accompaniment ideas:
- A slice or two of toast with hummus
- A grain pilaf (such as this quinoa with roasted grape tomatoes and chickpeas)
- A plate of vegan feta pasta or burst cherry tomato pasta
- Baked sweet potato (or a vegan sweet potato recipe that you love)
- A cup of potato corn chowder or cauliflower corn chowder
- A helping of tofu scramble
- A bowl of zucchini corn pasta
Vegan kale salads for salad season
Corn and avocado make this salad what it is, but kale is the foundation of the dish. If you try this salad and love it, here are a few others you might like to taste:
- Vegan feta kale salad
- Kale white bean Caesar salad
- Tahini mint kale salad
- Spicy peanut kale salad
- Cauliflower pomegranate kale salad
- 4 ears yellow, white, or bicolored corn on the cob
- avocado oil (or another neutral vegetable oil, for rubbing the corn prior to grilling)
- 2 small or medium, ripe Hass avocados
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon maple or agave syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (plus extra as needed)
- 1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato), stemmed and chopped or sliced into ribbons
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion or 1/4 cup pickled red onion (optional)
- Prepare an outdoor grill according to manufacturer instructions or preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Rub the ears of corn with the avocado oil. Place them on the grill or grill pan. Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes, so that the corn has grill marks all around. Remove the corn from heat and set it aside. Allow the corn to cool until it can be handled, about 10-15 minutes.
- Cut each avocado in half lengthwise, then remove the pits. Scoop the halves from the skin. Reserve three halves. Transfer the fourth half to a blender or food processor. Add the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, water, syrup, and salt. Blend or process this dressing till smooth. Set the dressing aside.
- Cut the corn kernels from the cobs. I like to do this by placing a small, overturned mixing bowl inside a larger mixing bowl. I position each corn cob vertically on top of the inverted small bowl, holding the cob at its tip with one hand. I use the other hand to cut down the sides of the cub with a chef's knife. The corn kernels will fall into the larger mixing bowl as you cut. Be sure to use a sharp knife for this task. Set the corn kernels aside.
- Place the kale into another, large mixing bowl. Add the dressing. Use your hands to "massage" the kale. It will be very well dressed. Add the corn and onions if using. Toss all of the ingredients well to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and lime juice to your liking. Serve. This salad is best enjoyed right away, but leftovers will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.
One nice update on my end is that I’m now unpacked enough to have been able to do some meal prep for the week this past Monday. It feels good to eat homemade fare in my new space.
I hope to make the avocado corn salad at least once or twice more before the warm weather is gone. If you give it a try, I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.