Gluten Free - Dairy Free - Soy Free - Refined Sugar Free
This salad makes for a nice dish to bring to potlucks. It's filled with fresh vegetables, plant protein, and the homemade dressing is subtly sweet and marinates the salad so that it only gets better with time. This vegan option is a great addition to any potluck or bbq, especially considering that many gatherings don't always have a lot of fresh vegetable options. People will dig in and be thankful for the vegetables topped with creamy avocados.
Be sure to win over even the most skeptical of kale crowds by thinly slicing the kale and gently massaging. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables around. This cruciferous vegetable is loaded with vitamins K, A, and C. It also contains high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-cancer nutrients (glucosinolates). By combatting the effects of oxidative stress and regulating inflammatory systems, the chronic inflammatory response in the body can be reduced which when not managed properly can be a risk factor for cancer. Don't skip the massaging step when preparing raw kale. This process breaks down the hardy leaves before consumption, which aides in better digestion leading to greater nutrient absorption. Not only does this increase availability to kale's full nutrient potential, it also makes for a more satisfying texture to most. Research suggests that the glucosinolates in kale can convert to cancer preventing compounds to reduce the risk of colon, breast, bladder, prostate, and ovarian cancers. This relies heavily upon proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, again stressing the importance of massaging raw leaves prior to eating.
While we want to reduce the consumption of all sugars in our diet, maple syrup is a good choice of natural sweetener for those times when a little sweetness is desired. Be sure to purchase 100% pure maple syrup, as many of the store bought brands are not maple syrup at all. They are low quality ingredients made to look like maple syrup, but taste nowehere near as good as the real deal, They are devoid of nutrient value and contain loads of sugar (high-fructose corn syrup being the main ingredient). 100% pure maple syrup is mineral-rich, especially high in manganese and zinc. It also contains antioxidants, which combat free radicals that cause cellular damage in the body and support a healthy immune system. I particulary enjoy the rich flavor of maple syrup that comes through in this salad, as it helps counteract some of the bitterness from the kale and dijon mustard.
Speaking of bitterness, as always, be sure to rinse your quinoa really well prior to cooking. Quinoa has a protective coating around the seed called saponin. Saponin acts as a natural pesticide with a strong bitter flavor that protects the plant in nature. If you've ever tasted quinoa that was incredibly bitter in flavor, this is what you were tasting. To avoid this undesirable taste, rinse your quinoa until the water runs clear and use a fresh batch of water to cook the fluffy pseudo grain. For more information on preparing quinoa and its many health benefits, go here.
Maple Dijon Kale & Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 20 min., Marinating time: 30+ min., Total time: ~50+ min.
Makes: a very large serving for gatherings
- ~ 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
- 2 – 3 cups lacinato kale leaves, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (~1/4 of a lemon)
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 large carrots, julienned
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped (stems included)
- ¼ cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds (optional)
- 1 – 2 avocados, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- Wash and rinse quinoa then cook as directed.
- While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the garbanzo beans and set aside.
- Wash and rinse all fresh produce. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine thinly sliced kale and fresh lemon juice. Gently massage until the leaves break down and soften. They will become a vibrant dark green color. Set aside.
- In a small jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake until well incorporated and emulsified. Taste and add a splash more maple syrup, if desired. Set aside.
- Add beans, carrots, and parsley in with the kale. Gently toss to mix all ingredients.
- When quinoa is ready, allow to cool for ~5 minutes then fluff and add to the salad mixture. Shake dressing one more time and pour it over the salad. Stir to coat all ingredients evenly. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes (for optimal flavor, let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours).
- Just before serving add pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and avocado. Gently stir to incorporate and serve. Garnish with some extra parsley, if desired.
Prep: use leftover quinoa or prep quinoa a day ahead of time. Re-fluff prior to adding to the salad.
Prep: salad dressing can be made in advance. This will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Storage: salad will keep for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It’s best kept without the avocado mixed in. Just add a fresh portion prior to serving if not consuming the whole salad in one setting.
Batch: if not using this salad for a large group, either cut the recipe in half or make a full batch and store in individual portion sizes for the next few days’ worth of lunches.
Swap: don’t do well with chickpeas? Leave them out or swap them for another bean of choice.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.