Quinoa Kale Salad with Blueberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is possibly the most earthy-crunchy dish I could make. No two words bring home the meaning of healthy and hippy like kale and quinoa. And the combination of the two! Well, it’s an unstoppable force to be reckoned with! But this dark, leafy salad, full of crunchy walnuts and sweet juicy blueberries tastes much more interesting than it sounds. Plus, the blueberry balsamic vinaigrette is so good! It’s sweet because of the blueberry juice, but the balsamic and lemony flavors make it feel more savory-sweet than sugary-sweet.

I wanted to make a salad, but with a little more bulk. The flavors of toasted quinoa and walnuts go well together, as does the raw kale with the lemon and blueberries. This is a more winter-y salad; I always associate kale with the fall, rather than the spring. But the colors are all deep and dark, it goes well with a fire and a bubbling stew.

Toasting the Quinoa by Martina Rehmus

Try toasting the quinoa over medium heat for a few minutes, until you can either see the grains browning or smell a nutty flavor. It makes the quinoa taste better! Also, I used a mix of red and white, but either work. I like the brick red color of the darker grain.

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While the grains are cooling, make the dressing. Add the oil last so it will mix better.

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Draining the juices takes awhile, but the vinaigrette is much more smooth without the seeds and pulp.

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Shred the kale last to keep the leaves as fresh as possible.

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Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, toasted

2 cups kale, chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (garnish on top, if accessible)

For Dressing:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries to make juice

3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp sugar

Process

Toast quinoa on medium in a pot for a few minutes. Turn to high heat and add 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of olive oil, wait until it boils to turn to low. Cook for 20 minutes covered until all the liquid has evaporated or the quinoa has spiraled. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Make the vinaigrette by combining blueberry juice*, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice. Add the oil slowly and stir to combine.

*To make juice: defrost and warm blueberries and strain using a sieve. Mash with the backside of a spoon to extract juice.

Toast the walnuts in a pan for a few minutes on medium heat until golden brown.

Pulse the kale in a food processor, or cut into very small pieces with a knife.

Mix all the ingredients together and drizzle dressing on top. If possible, add fresh blueberries on top (1/3 cup).

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