Well, I guess old habits die hard, because instead of eschewing the quinoa and kale in 2016, I’m doubling down and using them together in this yummy bowl. Actually, I originally thought this would be a great healthy option for Christmas-time, but then I recognized that brain-fart for what it was. Healthy and Christmas just don’t belong in the same sentence. There are 364 other days of the year to be disciplined, right?
So I waited, biding my time, until now — the first week of January to spring this on you. This vibrant, zingy, full-of-fiber and protein bowl is just what we need to jump start our healthier resolutions without going into full-on deprivation mode.
Because as we ease our way back into those healthy eating habits (which may have been shoved aside in the cookies-and sweets frenzy that is December), remember that you don’t have to pass on flavor or texture for the sake of health. In fact, both are abundant here.
Aside from kale and quinoa — both nutritional powerhouses — this simple dish enjoys a sweet-citrusy hit from mandarin oranges and chewy-tart dried cranberries.
The tangy dressing is an orange-dijon emulsion that clings to the kale and adds zip to the other ingredients. Crumbles of feta cheese add a salty bite and toasted almonds contribute the requisite crunch component.
This dish has staying power and can last refrigerated for 2-3 days, longer if you don’t dress it first — which makes it perfect for brown-bagging — in case saving lunch money was another of your resolutions this year.
Quinoa and Kale are the base for this salad but bright pops of mandarin, cranberries, salty feta and crunchy almonds make it special.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 5 cups kale
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup mandarin orange segments from a 15 ounce can
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds toasted
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- zest of one orange
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (from the zested orange
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare the quinoa as instructed on the package. When quinoa has absorbed the water, stir in the dried cranberries and remove from heat. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, rinse and dry the kale. (I used my salad spinner). Remove the tough stems and massage the kale with your hands to break down the fibers a little. Bunch the kale into a tight ball with one hand and slice the kale very thinly with a sharp knife. Set aside.
Drain the can of mandarin oranges and pat dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the orange zest, garlic, pepper, salt, dijon, whole grain dijon, orange juice, vinegar and olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.
Combine the cooled quinoa and cranberries, kale and oranges in a bowl. Toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette, until well coated, but not soupy (you may not use all the vinaigrette in this salad, but keep it to serve with other vegetables or over chicken or fish.)
Lightly toss the salad with the feta cheese and almonds. Serve.