Kale and Apricot Salad (paleo, gluten-free, vegan option)

kale apricot butternut squash salad paleo gluten-free

After three weeks straight of stomachaches, I had to do something. My wedding is swiftly approaching, to the point where everyone I see feels the need to tell me how close it is —  four weeks! Three weeks! So soon! Are you nervous? — and I knew that unless I wanted to be achy, bloated, angry and sad for the actual Blessed Event, I needed to do something.

That something was switching back to Paleo. I am pretty sure I’m not intolerant to dairy, nor do I really think I have any kind of gluten intolerance — though I will say that my skin cleared up considerably once I made the switch again. All I know is that on Paleo, I have fewer stomachaches, and while I’m positive that 100 percent Paleo is not right for me in the long term, it is until June 20.

Of course, the second I made that decision, I started craving my favorite kale and quinoa salad from a sandwich shop downtown.  Made with lacinato kale, roasted butternut squash, roasted and salted pepitas, apricot vinaigrette and quinoa, this salad packs a nutritional punch and is filling without being too filling. But quinoa, despite being a seed instead of a grain, is not considered Paleo.

What else could I do but make it myself? I took out the quinoa and replaced it with chicken, substituted sweet potatoes for the butternut squash, and made the whole thing on the grill. It was amazing, exactly what I wanted.

If you’re vegan, I do recommend replacing the chicken with quinoa. The quinoa soaks up the vinaigrette in a truly delicious way. If you’re primal, a little cheese wouldn’t be too bad on this, either. As is, the salad is Whole30 compliant.

Kale and Apricot Salad 
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, chiffonaded
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pepitas
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
For the dressing
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple juice
  • hefty pinch salt
  1. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Drizzle sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a tray or open foil packet. Place packet on direct heat (preferably in a basket or shelf in the top of the grill). These will roast for about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Take apricots and place in a small microwave-safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave for approximately 20 seconds. Let stand while you blend the oil, vinegar, apple juice and salt in a small food processor. Drain apricots and add them to the dressing, processing until very smooth (it could take a while). Add more water if a thinner dressing is desired.
  3. Place chicken thighs on grill and grill for 15 minutes, flip, then grill another 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. While this is happening, place kale in a large bowl and massage for a bit, tenderizing the leaves. Add dressing and combine thoroughly , Let marinate while chicken is cooking.
  4. Remove potatoes from grill; add to kale and dressing along with the pepitas. Mix thoroughly. Remove chicken from grill and slice, retaining skin. Arrange kale and chicken on individual plates and serve.

6 thoughts on “Kale and Apricot Salad (paleo, gluten-free, vegan option)

    • It really is! After the big day, I need to spend more time figuring out what exactly the problem is — I’m leery of blaming gluten, or grains, or dairy without some solid evidence — but for now, Paleo is a great stopgap. Plus, it means eating bacon again!

  1. I am the same exact way when it comes to Paleo. I like to do a little paleo cleansing from time to time because when the stomach aches hit and you have no clue where they came from, the best solution (for me) is to clean up everything you eat. I LOVE this salad!! It’s the perfect well-rounded meal! So excited for you and your big day! You’re going to be feeling like bells and whistles come June 20!

    • Paleo cleansing, that’s the perfect way to put it! So good to know others do this, too. I try to be realistic about the fact that I will have a sandwich again at some point, but Paleo is usually just the easiest way to clean up my act. Thank you for the good wishes!

  2. Yummm, this looks fabulous!! I would definitely replace the chicken with quinoa, and I can imagine how it soaks up the yummy flavors like you were saying. So glad I stumbled across your blog today… you most definitely have a new reader over here! Such an adorable blog name, too. 🙂

    • Hi, Jordan! I’m so glad to have another reader — and yes, the quinoa soaks everything up and is sooooo good. Definitely try it, and I hope you find my other recipes as enjoyable! Thanks for reading 🙂

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