I am really, really bad at themed food. The second I try to come up with something to fit a certain holiday or season, every idea I might have had flies straight out of my head. Then, I come up with tangential ideas that only kind of fit the theme and try to make them fit, usually with disastrous results.
But every once in a while, a recipe comes beautifully and gloriously together and happens to fit a perfectly appropriate theme. This salad is a perfect example. The recipe reads like I just threw every superfood at my disposal into a salad bowl and mixed thoroughly; the reality is that the flavors all meld deliciously together, complementing each other in complex and satisfying ways.
Check it out: it’s kale, topped with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth for flavor. The quinoa is mixed with fresh blueberries and dried cranberries for sweetness, then combined with an apple cider vinegar dressing and topped with candied walnuts. It’s my new favorite salad, and you can tell from just looking at it how amazing you’re going to feel eating it.
And what’s the theme? Fourth of July, of course! Red cranberries, blue blueberries, and the quinoa was definitely mostly white before I cooked it. Right? It totally fits…kind of. But it’s also the perfect dish to bring to a Fourth of July potluck, so I think it qualifies.
A few optional modifications: you can use maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing and on the nuts if you’re vegan. You can use bone broth to cook the quinoa in if you’re not. But no matter how you make it, it’s an amazing hearty summer salad that packs a giant nutritional punch. Enjoy!
- 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 bunch lacinato kale
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
- pinch salt
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave or otherwise heat honey up until it’s very pourable (this is not necessary with syrup). Stir walnuts into the honey and mix thoroughly until completely coated. Toast walnuts on a foil-lined pan in the oven until the honey hardens and your walnuts are a beautiful golden-brown. Remove; let cool.
- Meanwhile, rinse your quinoa and then place in a small saucepan with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, checking to ensure the pot does not boil dry. Remove from heat; allow to cool slightly.
- Also meanwhile, de-vein the kale with a paring knife. Roll leaves and cut crosswise into fairly thick ribbons. Place ribbons into a bowl and “massage,” or just squeeze everything really hard the way you would if you were trying to bruise it. Set aside.
- Whisk together dressing in a small bowl or a glass. Set aside.
- Stir blueberries and craisins into the quinoa until thoroughly combined. Add dressing, and do the same. If you are bringing it to a potluck, add the kale and candied walnuts and just stir everything up, refrigerating until serving. If you’re serving it at home, place kale on individual plates and top with quinoa, adding candied walnuts at the last second.