Flamin' Hot Cheetos may sound like the antithesis of your healthy kale salad, but the combination of these two foods makes a surprisingly delicious meal. The concept is a twist on a traditional green salad with crunchy croutons. No one bats an eye at the idea of crispy squares of buttery bread on your bed of greens, which is why you shouldn't knock Cheetos in salad until you've tried it.
While the crunch factor is an important component of any salad, Flamin' Hot Cheetos aren't just an afterthought to throw on when there's nothing left in your pantry; this spicy snack is actually something you'll want to intentionally start incorporating into your kale salads because of their flavor and texture. While Cheetos have a remarkable ability to keep their crunch in a salad, kale is known for its somewhat bitter taste and tough texture. Many people even massage their kale to break down the leaves and make them easier to chew.
The key to a good kale salad, however, is balancing out its bitter bite with sweet and savory toppings that vary in texture. Since Flamin' Hot Cheetos add a dry crunch to your greens and a good amount of spice, pairing them with hydrating fruits or veggies like cucumbers, apples, pomegranate seeds, or even blueberries can add moisture and a subtle sweetness to your dish.
Read more: 41 Must Try Hot Sandwich Recipes
Kale Salad Is More Versatile Than You Think
The dressing is also an important component of your kale salad. In particular, something acidic will brighten up your kale, add a hint of freshness to the dish, and complement your toppings' sweet and spicy flavors. Plus, if you're using the beloved Limón variety of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, it makes sense to pair the spicy salad with a citrus-based dressing using lemon or lime.
Some Reddit users expressed disdain for the combo in a 2021 thread after "Flamin' Hot Cheetos Salad" went viral on TikTok. The popular dish consisted of Cheetos, cucumbers, cilantro, spices, and lime juice. Other Redditors, however, praised the culinary combination, noting that the flavors seemed to fit together. One commenter even said, "I'd demolish this salad." Other varieties also include mango and Chamoy, a commonly used condiment in Mexican cuisine. The sweet mango and refreshing cucumber mixed with the spicy Cheetos and zesty lime juice create a surprisingly well-balanced dish.
Incorporating kale into this salad mixture wouldn't just give your Hot Cheetos salad more substance — the dark leafy greens are also packed with vitamins and minerals which would increase its nutritional benefit. Cheetos are often associated with unhealthy snack food, whereas kale is seen as the epitome of health. By thinking outside the culinary box and combining two very different foods, you can actually open up a whole new world of salad possibilities.
Read the original article on Mashed.