Salads and Side Dishes

Quinoa and Kale Winter Salad

My sister originally sent me a version of the recipe last year; she’d had it for dinner at a restaurant in Stamford, CT and knew I would love it and end up putting it on my blog. I was just wrapping up winter recipes at the time, so I decided to hold off and save it for this year. Calli made it over Thanksgiving week and it was an instant hit. It was sooo good that we made it twice! I’m giving you my version, which has a little more depth of flavors. This salad is a great side dish for any winter night. Combining quinoa with crunchy kale gives you lots of textures to chew on. Add sweet cranberries and yellow raisins, toasted walnuts and almonds, and you have the perfect salad full of protein and vitamins. The finish of shaved Parmesan adds that salty, creamy element you’re taste buds are searching for. Make it just once and I promise it will quickly become part of your weekly menu.


Makes: 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes           Total Time: 25 minutes

1 cup raw quinoa
1 large bunch kale, stems removed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 block Parmesan cheese, shaved for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

For Dressing*:
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp orange oil
1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

  • Bring two cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pot. Add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer, and cook until al dente, roughly 12 to 15 minutes. When it has finished cooking, strain through a fine colander and set aside. 
  • Chopping the kale is sort of up to you. Some prefer to chop it “confetti” like, so that it’s a mix-in and not really a present ingredient. I prefer to chop it in small, bite-sized pieces so that you can see it’s there. Decide based on if you like the texture of raw kale, or if you would rather hide it in there.
  • Put the cranberries and raisins in a small, microwave safe bowl. Cover with water and cook 2 minutes in the microwave to rehydrate the fruit. Carefully remove and strain, pat dry.
  • Make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • To make the salad, combine all of the ingredients except for the Parmesan, and toss well in a large bowl. Drizzle about half the dressing over top and toss well. Use as much as you deem necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Add the Parmesan shavings over top. Can be served slightly warm or at room temperature.

** If you don’t have orange oil or fig balsamic vinegar, GET SOME! They are great ingredients to have in your spice cabinet. If you don’t have them, however, add the zest of one orange to the dressing and use an aged balsamic vinegar.


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