A powerhouse delicious salad made with quinoa, kale, fresh fruit, feta cheese, crushed pistachios, and dried blueberries.
Any kale fans out there? ??
I think this is the third ever appearance of KALE on the blog which definitely needs to change. I’ve recently re-discovered how amazing it is in both nutrition and taste!
In all honesty and full disclosure, I used to despise kale. It wasn’t until the husband convinced me to try a kale and quinoa salad at Zupas that I decided it wasn’t too bad. I think it’s just because I’d never known how to prepare kale to make it taste awesome. It always was a little too tough and much too bitter. So, this salad is inspired by that first kale + quinoa salad I had with my husband, since that is what began my love affair with kale in the first place.
So what is their secret to delicious kale? Massaging it. High maintenance veggies am-I-right? Seriously though, this and finely cutting the kale makes all the difference and then some.
It takes a little extra effort but it is well worth it. First you’ll remove those big stems and then you’ll very, very thinly slice (ribbon) the kale. The smaller the shreds of kale, the better!
Once it’s all thinly sliced throw it in a colander and wash it. And here’s where it gets good. You’ll top the kale with about 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt and a few squeezes of fresh lemon (optional on the lemon, not on the salt) and then you literally rub and massage the kale. Do this for 2-3 minutes and it will change your kale-eating life forever.
And while you are massaging that kale, the quinoa can be cooking and then you can quickly prep the other ingredients and prepare to be blown away by how can something so healthy TASTE THIS GOOD?!
As far as salad toppings I’ve grabbed my favorite berries and fruit for this one. The kale and quinoa pairs incredibly well with super ripe berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The grapes are a really fun addition to add a little bit of fruity “crunch” and good flavor. Slice those in half and you’re good to go. The fruit can easily be changed up in this salad or you can just have one type of berry if desired.
And the last three toppings are game changers for texture and taste. They are feta cheese, pistachios, and dried blueberries. If you’ve never tried dried blueberries you are in for a mega treat. They taste like 10 blueberries compacted into one teeny-tiny deliciously sweet dried berry. They have so much good flavor and sweetness which really takes this salad to the next level. You can find dried blueberries by other dried fruits or by nuts in the grocery store. I get shelled and toasted pistachios that I coarsely chop for this salad. Other nuts can be substituted such as pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.
The feta adds a lot in my opinion, but it too can be left out if needed. Alternatively, goat cheese would be really delicious!
And finally the dressing! This dressing is hands down one of my favorite dressings ever. It’s the Simply Dressed Marzetti Balsamic Salad Dressing.
If you follow along on the blog (or know me in personally) you know I’m a huge fan of making my own dressings. I very rarely use a prepared dressing for a salad because I’m so picky about the dressing. However, that balsamic dressing is one of the exceptions. I’m obsessed with it and it totally makes this salad while also being a nice convenience factor.
Since you’ve got a bit of prep carved out for massaging that kale, prepping the fruit, and cooking the quinoa it’s nice to have a ready-made dressing that is equally as delicious as all the other ingredients.
- 1/2 cup red quinoa + 1 cup water
- 4 large leaves regular kale
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 lemon optional
- 3/4 cup fresh strawberries
- 3/4 cup fresh blackberries
- 3/4 cup fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup red grapes
- 1/3 cup dried blueberries
- 1/4 cup crushed pistachios
- 4 ounces crumbled Feta Cheese
- Marzetti® Simply Dressed® Balsamic Salad Dressing
Combine the quinoa and water with a pinch of salt in a small pot. Follow package directions to cook the quinoa. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to completely cool.
Remove the coarse stems and discard. Take the kale leaves and finely ribbon the kale to have very thin and small pieces of kale.
Place in a colander and wash well.
Place the coarse sea salt on top of the kale and a few squeezes of fresh lemon.
Massage and rub the kale with your hands for at least 2-3 minutes or until tender and a deeper green color. Rinse again and dry.
Toss the cooled quinoa with the dry massaged kale.
Rinse and dry the fruit. Remove the stems of the strawberries and slice or chop. Add to kale + quinoa mixture.
Add in the whole blackberries and raspberries.
Slice the grapes in half and add those.
Add in the dried blueberries and chopped pistachios.
Crumble the feta cheese over it all.
Gently toss together all the salad ingredients. Add the dressing, toss, and then add more dressing as needed.