Thrifty Quinoa Kale Salad

Never eat ingredients you can’t pronounce. Except Quinoa. You should eat quinoa.
— Unknown

If you've been to my house, you know that I love eating single dish meals. If you can eat it out of a bowl, I'm all in. I've always loved mixing all of my foods together, into a single dish. Especially after such a busy year at University this past year, where running around like a crazy woman became my thang, I have to say I got pretty good at the ol' standby. 

Leftovers, grains, nuts, seeds, greens, you name it. I almost always had a tupperware or some sort of pyrex dish in my backpack or duffle at all times, including a small family's-worth of silverware in every pouch and pocket of all the bags. 

I should mention here, that eating on the go has it's faults. I've absolutely spilt my fair share of hot beverages while biking my commute, smooshed more bananas that took the plunge to the bottom of my backpack, than I'd care to admit, and on very unfortunate occasion, have even had my yogurt implode a few minutes prior to handing in a final draft on an ethics paper. 

You're probably wondering why I would still choose to bring my own food, when I could just pick up foods on the go at a cafe or market. It's true. This would be more convenient, but being a full time student, this just wasn't always financially feasible. Plus, wouldn't you want to spend the little extra cash you have on concert tickets, not a meal that's going to leave you feel gross and groggy? Me too. 

That's why I've created dishes like this one, that can be made once and eaten several times throughout the week. The assembly is simple but the taste is complex. There's nothing worse than dedicating all of this time to preparing food for yourself and loved ones, only for it to be bland and boring. As a busy individual, my three goals when making food are:

  • to make something healthy, that will nourish me, make me feel good, and leave me satisfied
  • to create something that I can use again in a future dish later on in the week
  • and to make the flavor profile complex enough with my favorite herbs and spices so that I won't get bored or sick of the dish

These rules provide a no-fail system for me, and fuel me so I can go about living a happy and healthy life without having to worry where my next on-the-go meal is going to come from. *side note: home cooking is cheaper 99.99% of the time because you're not paying for the labor productions and presentation costs! (Not a study; just my belief through experience!)


Thrifty Quinoa Kale Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bunch of Kale (green, purple, dino, black...you choose!)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (tricolor quinoa is a great way to make your bowl a little more festive)
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Kombu (wild harvested) about 4 inch piece; optional
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup feta 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 pine nuts
  • 1/2 pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, or other fruit of your choosing; optional
  • any extra yummy veggie leftovers you have chilling in your fridge
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped herbs of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp of A Burning Tradition Fire Cider (recipe in blog!); optional
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the kale, thoroughly, and thinly chop, leaving the large stalks out, if they bother you. Once the kale is chopped, add it to a large salad bowl, along with the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Gently massage with your hands, working the citrus and oil into the greens. (This will help break their fibrous stature down a little bit and get the digestive process started so your body is able to absorb more nutrients. This will also save your digestive system from having to work so hard on breaking the deep leafy greens down- AKA the post dinner bloat!)
  2. While the kale's doing it's thing, add the water and sea salt to a pot on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Add the quinoa. Give it a good stir and cover, reducing to a simmer. I like to add in my kombu here. (If you haven't heard of kombu, it's great. It's part of the kelp fam and by cooking it in with our grains, it provides us with a healthy supply of calcium, iron, iodine, a little extra umami- plus! kombu also is a helper of digestibility to high fibrous foods, thanks to it's glutamic acids! Seeing a pattern, here?) Cook the quinoa for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water has been absorbed. Compost your kombu, now, if you're using it. 
  3. Let the quinoa come down to room temp. While you're waiting, add the rest of the ingredients to your kale mix. When the quinoa is ready or (if you're impatient, like me) after a couple of minutes, add it into your salad and give it one last big stir. *one more side note: this salad can absolutely be served as a hot side dish, just be aware that your feta might get a little gooey. If that's the case, you can just add it in last, and forget stirring it in. 
  4. Add in the last of your herbs, maybe some salt and black pepper, nutritional yeast, and fire cider if you got it. 
  5. You've officially made yourself a fool-proof, superfood, Thrifty Quinoa Kale Salad. Whew! Now get out there and do all the things!