Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for the toppings and the dressing most of us wouldn’t choose to eat a salad. The perfect salad is created so that each and every forkful has the ideal ratio of greens to yummy toppings. During the long, hot days of summer, I crave giant cold salads, but once the weather turns chilly salads are replaced with warm bowls of soup. Living somewhere with long summers and short winters, I feel like I wait all year for soup season and I’m not about to waste it on a salad. So while this kale quinoa apple salad is not a warm bowl of soup, it’s hearty, filled with my favorite salad toppings, and perfectly seasonal.
And as much as I hate to say it, you can’t eat soup for every meal.
I spent many years as a vegetarian and even longer as a vegan and I was always looking for salads that not only tasted good, but that were also filling. If you look at the salads on a restaurant menu and you remove the grilled chicken, there’s often nothing but a bed of romaine lettuce and maybe some cheese remaining on the plate. My goal was to create a fall salad using seasonal kale and apples, top it with delicious ingredients, and make it filling enough to stand on its own. So while you can top this salad with chicken, it isn’t a necessary addition to make this meal whole. This is not only a salad you enjoy for supper but it’s also the one you bring along to a potluck or a get-together.
A seasonal kale and quinoa salad tossed in a lemon champagne vinaigrette and topped with fall apple slices, toasted pecans, and crumbled blue cheese. The flavor combination of apples, blue cheese, and pecans is one of my very favorites and it’s complemented by the lemon champagne vinaigrette dressing perfectly. Serve this salad in wide bowls and pass the extra dressing around the table.
Enjoy this kale quinoa apple salad with a cider – Treehorn is my favorite local cider if you’re in Georgia- or a glass of white wine.
This hearty kale quinoa apple salad is filled with your favorite toppings, perfectly seasonal, and hearty enough to eat for dinner or take with you to share.
- 2 large bunches kale, lacinato preferred, washed and patted dry
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
- 2 medium sweet apples, such as honeycrisp or pink lady, cored and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp champagne vinaigrette
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
Using a sharp knife, finely chop the kale and place into a large mixing bowl.
To make the vinaigrette, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Taste for salt and acidity, add more as desired.
Add about 2/3 of the salad dressing to the mixing bowl with the kale and using your hands, massage the kale for about 1 minute or until all of the kale is coated. Add the quinoa to the mixing bowl and stir together with the kale. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
In the meantime, add the pecans to a small saute pan heated over medium-low heat. Toast the pecans, stirring the nuts often until fragrant and a few shades darker. Remove from the heat. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop the pecans.
To serve, divide the kale quinoa mixture out into 4 wide bowls and top each bowl with pecans, apple slices, and blue cheese crumbles. Pass the additional vinaigrette around the table.
2 large bunches of kale may seem like a lot, but once massaged it becomes far smaller of an amount.