Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

quinoa-kale salad

a recipe by
Lisa Crum
Delbarton, WV

I wish I could say this idea were entirely my own, but it isn't! I had a similar salad at an expensive steakhouse and paid about $17 for it...and I couldn't wait to get home and eat the leftovers. I made it my mission to recreate what I'd eaten, and this is the result. Now, I've made it a number of times. In instances where I couldn't get my hands on all of the original ingredients, I've substituted items as listed below and each variation tasted great! Doubling this recipe fills one of those big disposable aluminum chafing pans if you decide to take it to a potluck.

serves 4-5, or more if serving on the side
prep time 30 Min
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For quinoa-kale salad

  • 1 1-lb bag
    pre-washed, chopped kale
  • 2 pinch
    salt, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp
    olive or other vegetable oil as needed for softening kale
  • 1 md
    red onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
  • 2-3
    granny smith apples, skin-on, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 c
    sweetened dried cranberries (i use the ones with 50% less sugar)
  • 1-2 c
    sunflower seeds or chopped pecans, walnuts, almond slivers or nut of choice
  • 8-12 oz
    queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 c
    cooked, cooled quinoa
  • 1/2 c
    light, neutral oil
  • 1/4 c
    honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 c
    apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp
    fig glaze or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp
    chia or poppy seed (opt)
  • 1 tsp
    dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch

How To Make quinoa-kale salad

  • 1
    Make salad dressing. If you don't want to make your own, the two bottled varieties I've tried which are excellent with this are Breanna's poppy seed dressing and also your favorite brand of raspberry vinaigrette. It goes best with dressings that pair well with fruits instead of heavy, garlicky dressings.
  • 2
    Massage kale leaves with oil and salt (to taste), until soft and glossy. Get rough with it! Squish and scrunch it with your hands. The idea is to break down the fibers and get it to where it's tender and mild instead of hard and spiny and bitter. It ends up with a texture almost like butter lettuce.
  • 3
    Add remaining ingredients. Since I've made this many different ways, I listed the main ingredients first but also other ingredients I've used in place of them. Every single variety tastes great...and I left some of the quantities very flexible to your individual taste.
  • 4
    Toss with dressing (you don’t have to use all of it).
  • 5
    Chill until ready to serve. This is one of those salads that is good for days. It's a great meal prep item. If you add a protein on the side or even in the salad itself (like perhaps some grilled chicken or salmon) you have a complete meal! I find I like it just as much without meat as with it.