Want a tasty but healthy grain salad recipe? This mandarin quinoa and kale bowl is one of the best. Cooked quinoa is tossed with tender kale, chewy dried cranberries and canned mandarin oranges with a zesty dressing. Makes a great vegetarian lunch or a delicious side dish for a larger meal.
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.
What to serve with mandarin quinoa kale salad:
- Cheddar Chive Popovers
- Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken
- Brined Grilled Pork Chops
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Refrigerator Rolls
More kale and quinoa salad recipes
- Lemony Chickpea Tuna Salad
- Edamame Quinoa Salad
- Crunchy Kale and Cabbage Salad
- Shaved Brussels and Quinoa Salad
- Pearl Barley Kale Chopped Salad
Mandarin Quinoa & Kale Bowl
for the salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 5 cups kale
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup mandarin orange segments from a 15 ounce can
- ¼ cup sliced almonds toasted
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
for the dressing
- zest of one orange
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 ½ 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.
For the vinaigrette
- In a small bowl combine the orange zest, garlic, pepper, salt, dijon, whole grain dijon, orange juice, vinegar and olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.
Assemble the salad
- 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.
Renee Gardner says
This salad is gorgeous! Beautiful colors!
Luci's Morsels says
This looks delicious, healthy, and very satisfying! This would make a perfect lunch. I can’t wait to try this! Thank you for sharing!
Sarah @ Champagne Tastes says
I looooove quinoa, and I always completely forget about it!!! This sounds amazing- I’ve got quinoa I could do this with in the cabinet right now 😀
I love this combination! The perfect healthy, summer salad.
Tasting Page says
So many great ingredients in this salad. Love that you use orange zest too – adds a great punch!
Is it possible to post the nutritional data & calories. It really sounds delicious.
My recipe plugin doesn’t include nutritional data, but I was able to find a website that did break down the ingredients:
Serving Size 247 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 422Calories from Fat 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23.7g36%
Saturated Fat 5.3g27%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Total Carbohydrates 40.8g14%
Dietary Fiber 5.9g23%
Vitamin A 260% • Vitamin C 183%
Calcium 25% • Iron 21%
Nutrition Grade B+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Platter Talk says
Beautiful salad and healthy, as well. I’m ready for this kind of food, after eating my way thru the holidays!
You and me both!
Lauren Nolan (@lakeshore_lady) says
Yummm! This looks so good – I might need to make it this week!
Amanda | My Gluten-Free Miami says
I love salads at any time of year. Yours are always so colorful. I can’t wait to make this!
I try! Food should be appetizing — don’t you think?
This sounds absolutely delicious. I love recipes with fruit and quinoa in it. Yum!
Raia T. says
What a beautiful salad! I love the addition of the mandarins. Can’t wait to try it!
Platter Talk says
Thanks for providing a meal that is not only good for one to eat, but beautiful as well.
Everyday Sarah Jane says
Following trends is overrated! Kale and quinoa are wonderfully delicious and healthy ingredients and this bowl, combining the two, looks amazing!!!
I am so in love with the colors here! Gorgeous salad Lisa. Love it!!
Thank you! I’m so glad you like it — it’s really delicious, too!