Kale Quinoa Salad

My husband has a very green thumb. I, on the other hand, kill every plant I try to raise.

I do OK with kids and animals — we have two thriving boys, plus two dogs, four cats, and the chickens… but anything that doesn’t remind me to feed/ water it by making noise is probably condemned to die quietly in a corner.

Luckily, I married someone who takes great delight in bringing back to life things I have brought to the brink of death (and when he can’t manage it, his mom steps in).

And he had big plans for the backyard garden this year, even before the pandemic. The kale, especially, is a thing of beauty.

Don’t worry — those aren’t weeds. Just garlic chives and other lettuces!

I know what you’re thinking. Kale? Can you just get to those peanut-butter and chocolate cupcakes already?

But I promise — this is absolutely one of our favorite things. It requires a fair amount of chopping, but it holds up in the fridge very well for 2-3 days and is so delicious you’ll forget it’s good for you. Promise.

Kale Quinoa Salad

(recipe courtesy of my friend Spencer — who’s going to be so excited I’m finally typing it up so I don’t have to text him 2-3 times a year for the recipe!)

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 large bunch kale (approximately 12 – 15 large leaves), washed well and patted dry, with tough center stem removed
  • 3/4 cups quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or well-salted water
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts or seeds (I used pecans; the recipe calls for sunflower seeds)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil (if you don’t have this, just add another tablespoon of olive oil and all will be well)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Zest and juice from two lemons
  • 4 cloves or 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  • Wash the kale well and pat dry. It tends to get sandy.
  • Remove the tough center leaves and then tear or chop the kale into a relatively small dice (approximately 2-3 centimeters squared, according to William, who apparently speaks metric?)
  • Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups salted water or broth and 3/4 cup quinoa. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Some of the quinoa pieces should be translucent. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to cool for about 5-10 more minutes while you prepare the dressing.
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the kale, the dressing, and the still slightly warm quinoa. This will wilt the kale a bit (making it not so tough) and the kale and quinoa will both absorb the flavorful dressing.
  • Once the salad is completely cool, add the grapes and Parmesan or manchego cheese.
  • Sprinkle with nuts or seeds of your choice for added crunch. Taste for salt and pepper.
  • This salad is even better after 2 – 4 hours in the fridge, and is still delicious the next day.

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