Marisa's Carnitas & Kale Salad

Marisa's Carnitas & Kale Salad

This tasty slow cooker recipe comes directly from my sister-in-law’s kitchen.

Speaking of my sister-in-law, Marisa was a branding and marketing executive who thrived on leading her team through complex campaigns. When she took time off to raise her two boys, one of the ways she was able to tap back into that leadership role was to become a Pilates instructor. She had fallen in love with Pilates postpartum and wanted to teach her newfound passion to others. It also helped her carve out time for herself and her body—which rocks!

  • Prep Time

    10 minutes

  • Total Time

    4 hours 20 minutes

  • Servings


  • Freezer Friendly




  • 1 (2-pound) pork roast (or use 2 pounds chicken breast)
  • 1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ white or yellow onion sliced
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil


  • 1 (7-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 3 tablespoons pepitas
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons cotija cheese (optional; avoid if dairy-free)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Leaves from ½ bunch fresh cilantro (no stems)
  • ¼ cup cold filtered water


  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced


  • 8 to 10 cups chopped, stemmed kale (or romaine)
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • ½ cup roasted pepitas
  • ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese (optional)


  1. To make the carnitas, season the pork roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Set it in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear it until brown on all sides.
  2. Place in a slow cooker (fat side up) with the chicken broth, bay leaves, and onion. Cook on Low for 8 hours, until it’s completely tender and shreds easily with a fork. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred on a cutting board. If you like the pork juicier, use a large spoon and dress the pork with drippings from the slow cooker, to your desired amount.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the cilantro-pepita dressing, place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until the consistency is similar to pesto.
  4. When the pork has finished slow-cooking, heat the avocado oil in a large skillet on high heat. Add the pork and pan-fry to give it a crispy carnitas texture.
  5. To make the pickled onions, in a medium bowl, whisk the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt together until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  6. Place the onion in a mason jar and pour the vinegar mixture on top. Secure the lid and let the jar rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  7. To assemble the salad, in a large serving bowl, toss the chopped kale and dressing.
  8. Top with the carnitas, avocados, pickled onions, pepitas, and, if desired, cotija cheese.