People who say they don’t like salad — AREN’T DOING IT RIGHT! There. I’ve said it. Salad isn’t iceberg lettuce, mealy tomatoes and bottled dressing — I mean, I wouldn’t like that either. When they’re done right, a good salad is a symphony of flavors — satisfying and utterly delicious, like this Spicy Sausage, Tomato and Avocado Salad.
Yes, it’s got quinoa and kale (tongue sticking out emoji, DAD) but it’s also loaded with a ton of good and good-for-you ingredients.
For those who profess not to like kale, I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but — you’re doing it wrong. Kale needs to be massaged. A lot. 2-3 minutes of vigorous rub down with your very clean hands. It should smell grassy and fragrant when you’re done. Then you chop it VERY FINELY. No big leaves. No ruddy stems. This is the jumping off point for many wonderful kale salads, but you can’t skip these steps.
A good salad needs a good dressing — not some bottled, science experiment — dressing. With real ingredients. Garlic. Olive oil. Dijon mustard. And some type of acid — vinegar or citrus work well. Then you add from there. Honey for sweetness. Fresh herbs or spices… or both. You can keep it simple or dress it up.
And you need a big bowl to toss the salad. Don’t put dry salad on a plate and add dressing… Blech! You’ll wind up with entire bites devoid of dressing — or worse, soaked with it. Toss the salad in a bowl that’s twice as large as the volume of salad. Transfer the salad to the bowl you’re serving it in — and then top it with your “heroes”. You know, the things that make it shine. In this case, it’s whole grilled sausages and slices of avocado.
Now dig in — and enjoy every bite!
This easy salad is hearty and fresh at the same time.
- 3 cups kale tough stems removed, massaged and finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 cup tomato seeded and diced (can use grape or cherry tomatoes as well as plum or beefsteak
- 1/2 English cucumber diced
- 2 cups cooked quinoa cooked per package directions; remove lid and cool to room temperature
- 12 ounces spicy chicken sausages like Aidell's or Casual Gourmet, cooked
- 1 haas avocado peeled, seeded and sliced
- handful cilantro for garnish (optional)
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
Cook the quinoa or other grains according to the package instructions. (I used a grain blend with quinoa, buckwheat and millet - but rice or farro would work well too.) When the grains are cooked, move them from the heat and remove the lid. Set aside and let the grains cool to room temperature.
In a large salad bowl combine the kale, bell pepper, tomato and cucumber. Add the cooled grains and toss to combine.
Cook the sausages according to package directions or grill them (that's what I did.) I used a smoked sausage, so it was already cooked and I just needed to reheat it. Check your sausage -- if it's fresh, you'll need to cook it through completely.
Zest the lime and transfer to a glass 1-cup measure. Squeeze the juice from the lime into the measuring cup until you have 1/4 cup of juice.
Add the garlic, honey, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, cayenne and olive oil. Whisk to emulsify. Stir in the chopped cilantro and set aside.
Add about half the dressing to the vegetables and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and adjust. If it needs more dressing, add it a tablespoon at a time, but don't overdress -- you don't want it to be gloopy. Any leftover dressing is great on a piece of grilled chicken or fish.
Transfer the salad to a large bowl or platter. Arrange the sausages on top of the salad. Arrange the cut avocado next to the sausages and drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the avocado and sausage. Garnish with cilantro. Serve.
You can double the recipe for the salad to easily serve four, but you may not need to double the dressing. I had leftovers to dress another salad the next day.
More Hearty Salads:
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