Kale, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Salad

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Let me apologize to my followers who I hope are fond of my “real” approach to food.  As anybody who reads this column regularly knows, I am fond of cheese, pasta and not afraid of the occasional slab of butter.

But as much as I hate to say this, I have been on a healthier kick lately. I am not sure if it is the heat, the need to be in shorts and bathing suits or simply that when fresh greens are abundant, I like to use them. Whatever the reason, I have been on a grain and green salads kick.

This started as a simple solution to having pre-made lunch in the house when I get busy. When my life gets hectic, I have less time to cook, and I really don’t have time to eat a leisurely lunch out. So, often, if I don’t have something in the house pre-made, that means grabbing a sandwich on the go. That can get fattening and expensive quickly if you eat out every day.

This winter I had a friend come visit and she brought me a recipe for a grain and lentil salad. It had kale, red peppers and a Green Goddess dressing. We doubled the recipe so it made a big batch. It was delicious, and I have made it several times since. I love to have a batch of it sitting around so I know that I have a quick, healthy meal in the fridge.

I have a friend living with us for the summer, and the week she got here I had made a farro salad with fresh corn, asparagus and feta. I shared some with her, and we decided it would be a good thing if we traded off and make big veggie and grain salads to have around the house.

Last week she made a recipe she had made before. She graciously adjusted it for me as I don’t like olives or uncooked tomatoes. So this version had quinoa, kale, cucumber, red peppers and carrots. We ate it with arugula and a feta salad dressing. It was amazing. Fresh tasting and healthy but still delicious.

This week I am going to try a brown rice salad with apples, celery and cheddar cheese with a cider vinaigrette. Stay tuned to see if I liked it as if so, it may appear in a future column.

I found the recipe online (at www.food52.com) as I loved the kale and quinoa so much that I wanted a new variation to rotate into our summer schedule. I think this one sounds amazing, and the addition of pine nuts and goat cheese should make it filling enough to sustain someone all afternoon.

* Special Note: I made this recipe on Sunday and added freshly shelled peas and purple basil. Delicious!

Quinoa and Kale Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups salted water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted walnut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot.
  • Add the quinoa, cover and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer.
  • Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover.
  • Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, walnut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you desire), pine nuts, and goat cheese.
  • Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed — the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients.
  • As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed.
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Writer. Cook. Hockey player. Skier. Snowboarder. Mountain biker. Mother of two great danes. Wife. Marketing expert. And, most fulfilling, Co-editor of Dishing!

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