Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

Even though I knew better, I still asked.

“Should we do something with kale, or swiss chard, or spinach, with the quinoa?”

“I’m not a good one to ask about that sort of thing,” he replied. “How about you do something with sausage, butter and cream?”

Typical. Oh…so…typical.

Didn’t he hear the bleating of the noise makers? Didn’t he see the ball drop? Doesn’t he know there’s been the annual calendar flip that puts us all into dietary shock following the previous two month’s full-steam-ahead intake of gluttonous anything and everything?

Lucky for him (ahem) he has me and this protein-packed quinoa and kale salad to remind him.

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaangeeesss

Resolutions. Revolutions. Re-solutions. ‘Tis the time of year that makes us all want to eat better. More healthy. More wholesome.

It’s silly really. Why do we need the new year to remind us we should be eating healthy, whole foods? To eat seasonal? To eat and live right?

Hey, I’m standing right in line with my man when he craves sausage, butter and cream, but I’m an even bigger fan of hitting everything in moderation.

And that’s where this protein-packed quinoa salad comes into play because it’s not one of those salads that leaves you craving more bite, more chew or more flavor. It delivers it all in each fresh bite.

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

About the recipe

This quinoa and kale salad packs a lot thanks to simple ingredients that when combined, offer a crunchy play of sweet and savory with a slight Med-inspired flavor twist.

Quinoa and chickpeas provide valuable protein, making this light salad a favorite meatless or vegetarian option to serve alone, or alongside fish, chicken or any other protein source. I added pistachios not only for their crunch, but also because of their heart-healthy fats that have been shown to lower cholesterol. They’re also lower in fat content than other nuts and offer more potassium and vitamin K.

Kale’s health benefits are well documented, scientifically proven, and long. High in fiber, iron, calcium, and all sorts of vitamins, not to mention low in calories and zero fat, this leafy green has become a favorite of even the most mainstream eater. I like to chop it up and keep a gallon freezer bag of it in my fridge to add to every salad I make, plus smoothies, scrambled eggs and soups. It’s that easy way to give everything a healthy boost.

Seasonal clementine oranges (I used Cuties) are at their juicy ripeness in the winter months, and given their small stature, they’re perfect to slice for salad portions. And of course, a valuable source of everyone’s favorite antioxidant, vitamin C. Keep those colds away!

The salad dressing for this quinoa salad is one I took from a favorite of mine, this Fattoush Salad. Pomegranate molasses is the sweetener and compounds the pomegranate layers with the addition of pom’s jeweled seeds. You can find the sumac and pomegranate molasses at Mediterranean markets. Don’t skip the dried mint in the dressing, it adds a pungency you won’t get by using only fresh mint—that I add to the salad as a bright garnish as well.

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.  

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad
 
Quinoa, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and pistachios add protein and healthy fat to this simple and seasonal kale salad, making it a favorite side dish or vegetarian main meal.
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped kale (ribs removed)
  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 5-6 clementine oranges, peeled and sliced
  • ⅓ cup chopped pistachios
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons sumac, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Instructions
  1. In a salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, chopped kale, garbanzo beans, orange slices, pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
  2. In a small bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 1 teaspoon of sumac, dried mint and kosher salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss so everything is evenly coated. Dust with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sumac and freshly chopped mint. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Salad can be served immediately or saved for up to 2 days.

Quinoa and Kale Protein Salad is a totally fresh and easy way to eat healthy | foodiecrush.com

Keen for Quinoa

There’s more than one salad to put your protein power behind. Here are a few more menu-worthy for your own table.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables from Cookie and Kate on foodiecrush.com

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Summer or not, this salad would be great on any table.

Get the recipe | Cookie and Kate

Thai Quinoa Power Salad | foodiecrush.com

Thai Quinoa Power Salad

The spicy citrus and rice vinegar dressing dresses all the crunch of this quinoa salad

Get the recipe | FoodieCrush

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad from Sally's Baking Addiction on foodiecrush.com

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad

Avocado, chicken and roasted garlic are the supporting stars to this standout dish.

Get the recipe | Sally’s Baking Addiction

Apple Pistachio Quinoa Salad from Chelsea's Messy Apron on foodiecrush.com

Apple Pistachio Quinoa Salad

The lemon poppyseed dressing is what really pops the rocks in this salad.

Get the recipe | Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad by Food Fanatic on foodiecrush.com

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

The sweetness of roasted butternut squash gives this salad some heft to make it a hearty vegetarian main.

Get the recipe | Food Fanatic

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