Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kale Quinoa Salad with variations

I love quinoa & kale. I could eat it 7 days a week and not get bored for a long time. On its own, quinoa is so very versatile. As a salad, kale & quinoa go well with many different combinations and flavors. I like that it is a simple meal, and I can make a huge batch and it lasts for days.

I'd like to share the basic prep method & recipe, plus several variations we have tried. For the main recipe you will need:

1 cup white quinoa (we'll talk about cooking red quinoa below)
1.5 cups cooking liquid-- water, chicken stock, etc
1 bag of chopped kale, or one bunch
kosher or sea salt
wash & dry the quinoa
photo from Pinterest Meal:Quinoa post

Basic dressing:
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp honey or Natural Agave Syrup
cracked black pepper

toast the quinoa before adding liquid
Take the quinoa & rinse it well. If you don't rinse it, it will taste soapy & bitter. Once you rinse it, you'll want to dry it to make it fluffier later, then toast it. I find it is easiest to rinse it in the morning, strain, then lay it on a sheet pan to dry during the day. When its about time to start dinner, I will finish drying in the oven at 250* for 15 min, stirring a few times.

Add the quinoa to a warm pan and toast for a few minutes while stirring. Toasting the quinoa will make a nice nutty smell. Then add 1.5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock for the most flavor. You can use water, but we prefer stock or broth. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to and simmer covered for 12 minutes.

*Note: White quinoa cooks best with a 1:1.5 quinoa to cooking liquid ratio. I have now learned that despite many incorrect recipes, red quinoa needs more liquid. For red quinoa, use a 1:2 ratio, and add an additional 10min cooking time. I ruined a few batches before finally getting it right.

While the quinoa cooks, mix the dressing ingredients & set aside. Next, start prepping the kale. You will want to remove all stems & rinse. Now comes the fun part. Swirl a little olive oil on the kale and sprinkle liberally with kosher or sea salt. (You'll add more salt than you would normally use when cooking) Take a bunch of kale and rub it pretty vigorously between your hands. Do this repeatedly til you massage the entire batch. The salt will help break down the toughness of the kale and make it a little less bitter. Squeeze the kale lightly after its all massaged to get some of the excess liquid out. Do not rinse the kale!

When the quinoa is done cooking fluff it with a fork. You can cool it down before adding the kale, but it isn't necessary. Add in the dressing & any extra ingredients, stir & enjoy!

Now comes the fun part, all the combinations! We buy our quinoa in bulk on & save a ton, and I get to use my Swagbucks gift cards. Hooray cheap, tasty food!

Version 1- basic recipe, and add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, 1/2c pecan pieces, and 1/2 c toasted sesame seed nuts. Add a little brown sugar to the dressing.

Version 2- basic recipe and add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast, 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, 4oz fresh sliced button mushrooms. and a splash of extra lemon juice.

Version 3 (pictured)- Use red quinoa instead of white, 1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast, 3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, 4oz fresh sliced button mushrooms, 1-2 chopped gala apples, freshly cut strawberries added just when serving (don't mix in), add a little brown sugar & a splash of rice wine vinegar.

Red Quinoa, Kale, & Fruit Salad
The possibilities really are endless. I want to try Kale, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad with Mint-Yogurt Dressing, or Kale & Quinoa salad with lemon, tahini & hot sauce dressing. I may challenge myself to make a new version each month this year. What variations have you tried?

*note: we usually add a bunch more cranberries & nuts than the recipe calls for because we like it that way :-)

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  1. Waiiit a min... so you don't cook the kale? Stop the presses! I keep trying to cook mine and it's always horrible! I am SO trying this!

    I do love quinoa also... we pretty much replaced every rice dish with quinoa in our house. I make a salad with greek yogurt, cucumber, a little red onion and peppers for lunch - often.
    Thanks for sharing yours! I am such a foodie!

    1. nope, no cooking the kale! I was skeptical at first, but its awesome. The salt massage makes the texture a more like the firmness of spinach. I love that kale is easy to grow in the garden too.
      I'll have to try your quinoa salad recipe too. sounds great!

  2. This one will not happen at my house. Spouse/chef does not like quinoa!

  3. All of those sound fantastic to me though!

    1. i wonder if you could sub brown rice? it probably wouldn't be a good salad for keeping for days since rice clumps so bad when cold.

    2. next time I make a batch I should give you some, I always make way too much

  4. I am tempted to try this only thing is I have never had kale! Does it resemble close to the taste of anything else?

    1. I only had my first taste of kale a little over a year ago and liked it so much that we decided to grow it. I think kale is similar to spinach, but not as "green" tasting. Honestly, I think its pretty mild. If you like spinach or other spring greens (arugula, mescalin mix) I would guess you would like kale. I'd love to know what you think!

  5. that looks good, i haven't tried quinoa yet - looks like i am going for it..

    thanks for stopping by at my blog and for the follow, i am now following you too! hope to see you on our next fun friday blog hop!


    1. thanks for coming by. I hope you try quinoa, i love it. Let me know what you think of it when you do!

  6. I love quinoa and since I have a ton of kale growing in my garden I'm learning what to do with it! Looks like I'll have to give this a try!

  7. That looks so good!! Thanks for linking up!


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