Kale, quinoa and lentil salad

Kale is one of the healthiest foods around. It really does pack a punch: Vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and more.

I often make a kale, quinoa and lentil salad – as a side dish or a main meal – because it is easy to put together and versatile. You can add any fresh vegetables and herbs that you like. One dish will give you all the nutrients in the kale plus the protein and iron from the quinoa and lentils.

In this recipe, I use curly kale leaves, cooked red quinoa and black beluga lentils. You can also use white or tri-coloured quinoa and green lentils. As for the kale, remove the spines, rinse and spin the leaves and slice them into ribbons. (You can buy bagged curly kale leaves that are pre-chopped, but fresh kale is better.) One or two cups of sliced kale leaves should be enough, but go ahead and add more if you like.

Kale leaves are robust and marinating the salad in a portion of your vinaigrette will give the leaves and entire salad a great taste and texture. The kale leaves will not go limp and you do not need to massage the leaves with oil to soften them, as recommended in some recipes.

When my salad has been put together, I add and toss a portion of my lemon-based vinaigrette – just enough to evenly moisten all of the ingredients. I then let the salad marinate for a good 30 minutes or more. Extra salad dressing along with spices can be added later to individual portions and according to personal preference.

The salad and vinaigrette recipes are below. Enjoy!

Kale, quinoa and lentil salad

Makes one large to a medium or smaller-size salad (as desired)

SALAD

  • 1-2 cups cooked lentils, black beluga or green 
  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa, red or white or tri-coloured
  • 1-3 cups (or more) packed fresh kale leaves, spines removed, rinsed, spun and sliced into ribbons
  • Fresh herbs of choice: a combination or mix of chopped mint, basil, coriander, parsley, dill leaves or other * (see note)
  • Other chopped/diced vegetable options: onion, celery, cucumber, tomato, red, yellow or green bell pepper.
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed (option if you really like garlic!)
  • A few pinches of red pepper flakes (option)

* Note: Can also use a mix of dried herbs of choice

LEMON-BASED VINAIGRETTE

This vinaigrette recipe will make more than you need. Leftover can be stored in a sealed glass jar in fridge

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil, or a mix of both
  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • A pinch of dried thyme (or other herb)

PROCEDURE

Cook the quinoa and lentils according to package or follow the instructions here. For a large salad, use more dried quinoa and lentils. Should you make more than you need, you can freeze leftover cooked lentils and quinoa and use for a future recipe.

Make sure to strain any excess water that may be leftover from the cooked lentils. There shouldn’t be any leftover water in both cooked quinoa and lentils.

Mix the cooked quinoa and lentils together in a medium-size bowl and allow to cool to room temperature on countertop. From time to time, fluff up with a fork to release steam.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale and all the other veggies and herbs that you want to add to the salad and transfer these into a large salad bowl. Add more for a large salad. Toss well to combine.

Make the vinaigrette by hand-whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl or by blending them together in a small blender. Transfer the vinaigrette to a glass jar and seal and shake prior to use.

Transfer the cooled quinoa and lentils into the big salad bowl and toss together with the kale and other ingredients. Add a portion of vinaigrette, just enough to evenly moisten and coat all ingredients. Allow the salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes or more, tossing from time to time.

Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Adjust by adding a bit more vinaigrette, if need be. Toss well.

To all garlic lovers, although there’s some garlic in the vinaigrette, go ahead and toss in that extra pressed clove in the salad. 🙂

Serve the salad with the vinaigrette and hot pepper flakes on the side, to add according to individual taste.

Enjoy as a side dish or main meal with crusty bread and other condiments.

Leftover salad keeps well in a covered container in fridge for another day or so.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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