Without question, Hillstone (AKA Houston’s) is my FAVORITE restaurant. Everything from the menu to the atmosphere to the service is just perfect, and their food is consistently simple and delicious each and every time I visit. One of my favorite things to order at Hillstone is their famous kale salad. I know what you’re thinking. “Umm.. who gets excited about kale salad?” I get it – I really do, but here’s the thing… this kale salad is ACTUALLY delicious. Not delicious for a salad… just delicious. I have literally asked to sub french fries for the salad, so you know I’m serious.
So we’ve established I’m weirdly in love with salad, but here’s the sad part. Hillstone isn’t the most kid-friendly restaurant. They don’t have high chairs, and it’s kind of quiet and fancy. I’ve totally brought my kids there, but Ryan and I can’t really justify wrangling two kids in our lap when we’re paying $$$ for dinner. We were craving this yummy sale salad like nobody’s business, so I SCOURED the interested for a copycat recipe. I found one. It was delicious. I very slightly tweaked it to our taste, and now we make it every week. If you’re looking for a kale salad recipe that you will actually crave, this one is a WINNER. Keep reading to learn how to make my favorite kale salad with peanut dressing that’s a total dupe for Hillstone. Oh, and I make it with chicken, but it’s just as delicious without it if you’d prefer a vegetarian or vegan dinner or side dish option.
My Favorite Kale Salad RecipeBefore I break down the recipe, I want to emphasize two things. It’s really important that you chop the peanuts REALLY finely. If you chop them too coarsely, they add crunch but zero flavor, and the peanut flavor is a majorly important component of this flavorful kale salad recipe. I recommend blitzing them in a mini food processor for a few seconds. My mother-in-law gave us this one, and it’s awesome and 100% worth buying – currently on sale for under $30. If you’re looking for something even more affordable, I used to own this mini food processor that’s under $10. It will absolutely do the job if you’re just looking to do simple things like chop nuts.
Secondly, you’re gonna want to use decent parmesan cheese (or pecorino romano). It doesn’t have to be a fancy schmancy version or cost a million dollars, but you just don’t want to use the powdered stuff that comes in a can or the shredded kind that’s with the bagged cheese. Both of those have little to no actual flavor, and it will seriously impact the flavor the salad. Do yourself a favor and go to the refrigerated cheese section of your supermarket and pick up a tub of parmesan or pecorino romano. Either will do, and they’ll be much saltier and more flavorful. Plus, they’re delicious on pasta, vegetables, and just about anything. Ok, now on to the recipe!
Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing Hillstone Dupe RecipeAdapted from 2cookinmamas
4 cups kale (finely chopped into thin ribbons)
2 cups cabbage (finely chopped) – look for the “angel hair” coleslaw in the salad section of your grocery store
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup fresh mint (chopped)
1/2 cup peanuts (very finely chopped – ideally in food processor)
2 green onions (chopped)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (buy the kind in the refrigerated section that comes in a tub – not the kind that comes in a bag)
1-1.5 cups of cooked chicken (chopped or shredded)
Salt to taste (amount depends on how salty your parmesan cheese is. Just keep adding until it tastes perfect to you.)
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
freshly ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
Combine all of the dry salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar with a lid or whisk together in a bowl. Toss the salad with all of the dressing and season with salt to taste. The amount of salt required is mainly going to depend on how salty your cheese is, so wait to season with salt until everything is thoroughly combined. You’ll ideally want to let the salad sit in the dressing for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
After all of your ingredients are combined, you’ll see this glorious masterpiece. I’m telling you, you’re not going to think about kale salad the same way ever again. Again, the key is chopping everything REALLY finely. It makes eating the salad so much more enjoyable AND makes the salad taste better.
Whether you’re looking for a healthy dinner idea or a yummy side dish for parties, this kale salad recipe is a total winner. If you make it for your family, be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram Stories @ashleybrookenicholas. You’re gonna love it!