Quinoa, chickpeas and pistachios add protein and healthy fat to this seasonal kale salad, making it a favorite side dish or healthy vegetarian main meal.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups chopped kale , ribs removed
- 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans , drained
- 5-6 clementine oranges , peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/3 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
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- In a salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, chopped kale, garbanzo beans, orange slices, pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
- 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.
- 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.
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