An actually filling salad recipe…maybe it seems like a novel concept. My friends, I’m here to tell you that you can eat salad and be full too. This kale and quinoa power salad recipe is packed full of goodness and needs to be added to your meal plan ASAP.
The base recipe for this Kale and Quinoa Power Salad is a vegetarian salad recipe that derives its protein from nuts, seeds, grains, and a small amount of goat cheese. If you’re a pescetarian or eat meat, I recommend the option to add a fillet of baked or grilled salmon on top for even more protein and all those great omega-3s. Truthfully, this salad is good both ways. The “cherry on top” for this kale and quinoa salad recipe is the homemade maple tahini dressing. It is so delicious (like, I want to put it on everything delicious) and is a super easy and quick dressing recipe to throw together.
If you’ve gotten bored of eating the same salads over and over, need a new summer salad idea, or are just looking for interesting salads to make…this is the salad for you!
TELL ME ABOUT THIS KALE AND QUINOA POWER SALAD
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate. Nothing in this recipe is particularly complicated, but there are a decent amount of parts and pieces that go into making this recipe which requires a little bit of kitchen time management.
Flavor: Each ingredient pops at just the right time. The maple tahini dressing brings a sweet and savory kick first, followed by the saltiness of the nuts, the tang of the goat cheese, and the brightness of the veggies.
Texture: This kale and quinoa salad has such a fun texture! The quinoa and sauteed kale is chewy, the pepitas and pistachio pieces add a nice crunch, the tomatoes add a pop of freshness, and it’s all accented by creamy goat cheese and maple tahini dressing.
Time: It will take you approximately 35 minutes to prepare you Kale and Quinoa Power Salad, including time to cook, chop, and mix together.
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING KALE AND QUINOA POWER SALAD
Fresh veggies: Having a fresh bunch of curly kale and fresh cherry tomatoes make a big difference in this salad recipe. Make sure to tear (and / or cut) your kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces for optimal enjoyment when eating.
Quinoa: The quinoa is a key component in this kale and quinoa salad recipe. I prefer to use tri-colored quinoa, but use whatever variety of quinoa you enjoy best (more notes on this at the end of this post).
Goat cheese: Use your favorite variety of plain chevre, aka goat cheese, for this recipe. Use a fork to gently crumble it into your bowl. I recommend 1.5-2 ounces…but I’m not here to rain on your cheese parade if you “accidently” crumble in a little extra.
Nuts and seeds: One of the reasons this salad is actually filling is the addition of pepitas and pistachios! I like to use roasted and salted pepitas and generally splurge and buy the pre-shelled pistachios to save time. I recommend rough chopping the pistachios because a full pistachio nut is a bit large in comparison to the other components of this salad recipe and can be a bit off-putting when everything comes together. If you miss one or two, don’t worry about it, but I find the smaller pieces to be more enjoyable.
OVERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE KALE AND QUINOA POWER SALAD
- Prepare quinoa: Prepare your quinoa per your package directions (every brand’s directions are slightly different)
- Sauté kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper: While your quinoa is cooking, sauté your kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Yes, the ingredient list really does say to use an entire bunch of kale! Greens wilt down to be so much smaller than you might think. I also recommend covering your skillet in between stirring to help steam the leaves as well. Since kale is such a hearty green, it helps you achieve a nice, tender wilted green.
- While the quinoa and kale cool a little bit, make your dressing and prep the rest of your ingredients: Get your maple tahini dressing ingredients together in a small jar, shake, and refrigerate until ready to use. Slice your cherry tomatoes, rough chop your pistachios, and have everything measured out and ready to go.
- Make your salad: In a large bowl, stir your quinoa, kale, pistachios, pepitas, and tomatoes together to combine. Add in your crumbled goat cheese and stir lightly to distribute. Top with dressing (option to mix in if that’s your thing!).
- Store leftovers in the fridge: In an air-tight container, store leftovers for 1-2 days. This salad is great to have for lunch the next day.
See a quick story series on this kale quinoa salad recipe here!
Serving suggestion: Add salmon
For those who eat fish, adding a filet of baked or grilled salmon on top of your kale and quinoa power salad is highly recommended. This is a great way to add additional protein and omega-3s to you meal.
Can I prep any of these ingredients ahead of time to make putting this recipe together even easier? Yes! As a huge fan of meal prepping myself, you can definitely do a few things ahead of time to make putting this salad together very efficient. One option is to cook the quinoa the night prior to serving. This way it will already be cooled down to serve and you do not need to worry about that component while doing the rest of your salad assembly. If you’ve purchased shelled pistachios, you can deshell and rough chop these ahead of time as well.
What type of quinoa should I use? I like to use tri-colored quinoa for this kale and quinoa salad recipe mostly because I think it’s pretty. Nutritionally, white, red, and black quinoa are very similar. White quinoa is a lighter, fluffier, and more mild variety. Red and black quinoa have a little chewier and heartier texture, making them a good option for a salad as they hold their shape well. I like to have the mix of all three, but use whatever type of quinoa you enjoy best!
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Kale and Quinoa Power Salad
- 1 small head curly kale washed, de-stemmed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 C dry quinoa I use tri-colored
- ⅓ C pistachios shelled and rough chopped
- ⅓ C pepitas I prefer roasted and salted
- 6 oz cherry tomatoes halved
- 1.5-2 oz goat cheese crumbled
- Maple tahini dressing
- Optional topping idea: pan-seared baked, or grilled salmon fillets ( 4oz fillets for each salad)
- Prepare quinoa per package directions
- While quinoa is cooking, sauté kale with olive oil, salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover the pan in between tossing/stirring to help the kale steam. Cook until bright green and tender, ~5-8 minutes*
- If making the maple tahini dressing fresh, shake all dressing ingredients in a jar to combine while the quinoa and kale cool
- In a large bowl, toss quinoa, kale, pistachios, pepitas, and tomatoes to combine. Add in goat cheese & toss lightly. Top with cooked salmon fillet if choosing to add to your salad
- Dress, serve, and enjoy!
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