If you enjoy quinoa as much as I do, and are looking for fresh, new ways to prepare it, then this bright and hearty quinoa salad with kale, white beans, and a few other tasty add-ins is definitely one to add to your repertoire!
Versatile, Delicious Quinoa
My, oh my... when I think back over the years, I can tell you that I've definitely made my share of quinoa dishes!
During my personal chef days, I cooked for folks who were gluten-free and very health conscious. I would use quinoa (a seed that comes from the amaranth plant—loaded with protein, fiber, and all nine essential amino acids), in a variety delicious ways.
I prepared quinoa as either a warm side dish in place of traditional pasta, or as a change of pace from rice or potatoes. I also added quinoa to my lemony chicken and spring veggie soup, or substituted it for the rice in the filling of my roasted acorn squash.
But when I was looking to make something a bit more cool and refreshing, and easy to stow away in the fridge for a couple of days, I would prepare a quinoa salad recipe loaded up with all sorts of hearty and healthy tidbits, all tossed together with a flavorful dressing.
A bowl of quinoa salad is so scrumptious, and has the wonderful bonus of being so good for you too!
Quinoa Salad, Hearty, Savory, and Healthy
While I don't necessarily have a favorite type of quinoa when it comes to preparing my quinoa salads (I like them all), I do more often tend to choose the tricolored quinoa because it uses a color blend of red, brown, and white quinoa, which offers a nice texture and a little added kick of pretty color.
And to give a little complexity and extra protein, fiber, and crunch to my quinoa salad, I love to add in nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios, and beans such as white beans, garbanzo beans or black beans.
An addition of halved or quartered juicy cherry tomatoes along with some finely julienned kale provide some freshness, color, and extra nutrients.
All that's left to finish off my quinoa salad with is a little flourish of fresh herbs and a drizzle of a good dressing, such as a tangy lemon vinaigrette-style dressing.
This is a definitely a salad that is not only cool, colorful, and flavorful, but filled with good-for-you ingredients—a genuine pleasure to savor.
Tips & Tidbits for Quinoa Salad:
- Choose your quinoa: Because it's a little more colorful and eye-catching, I tend to favor the tricolored quinoa; but you can certainly use the white or red quinoa as well—whichever you prefer!
- How to cook your quinoa: I've found that many of the instructions on the packages of quinoa tend to not give the best cooking method, and the quinoa gets a little soggy, or isn't quite right. My personal general ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/4 cups water (or broth, as in this case). I combine the water or broth with the quinoa, bring it to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a low, gentle simmer; once the water is gone (about 20 minutes), I remove the lid and allow the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork and proceed with the recipe.
- Cool your quinoa for salad: Before adding in your other salad ingredients, take some time to cool your quinoa. I like to line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and then scoop the cooked quinoa out onto it, spread it out, and allow it to cool to at least room temp.
- Tweak your add-ins: I love the flavor and health benefits of almonds, but you can also use pistachios, walnuts, cashews, or your favorite nut. You can also substitute the white beans for garbanzo beans, black beans, or any other bean.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
• 1 1/2 cup tricolored quinoa
• 2 cups water or broth (I like to use chicken broth for more flavor)
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
• 1 cup canned navy beans or small white beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup sliced almonds
• 2 cups finely julienned/chopped kale
• 2 tablespoons of your choice of either chopped parsley, mint, or cilantro (or a combo)
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 cup olive oil
-In a medium pan or pot set over medium heat, combine the quinoa with the water or broth (if using water, add a couple of pinches of salt); bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover, and allow to very gently simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the water and is tender; remove from heat, uncover, and allow the quinoa to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with fork; then, allow it to cool.
-Prepare the dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until completely emulsified, and set aside. You can also add the ingredients to a mason jar and vigorously shake.
-Once the quinoa is cooled, add it to a large bowl along with the cherry tomatoes, the white beans, the sliced almonds, the kale and all of the fresh herbs, and lightly toss to combine; then, drizzle as much of the dressing in to suit your taste and toss together, then check/adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary.
-Serve immediately, or keep cold and covered in the fridge.
Cook's Note: This post has been updated with even more love! And new photos!