Kale Quinoa Salad

While in Aspen, CO last week for our family trip, I found myself ordering kale salad after kale salad. Our dinners where indulgent, as they should be, so I tried to counteract them with a salad here and there for lunch. And I’d be lying if I said every time I ordered, said kale salad, it wasn’t also followed by a handful of french fries. The amount of kale salads and fries eaten on that trip…

Anyway, the kale salad hoopla was a must recreate situation the second I got home. 1. because I love some good travel inspiration for my meals and 2. because how better to slide back into healthy eating post vacay than with a kale salad? It has me being healthy and reminiscent!


Kale Quinoa Salad
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

1 large bunch of lacinito kale
1 medium sweet potato
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries
olive oil

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Chop your sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and cinnamon. I love love love roasting sweet potatoes with cinnamon, but you can omit. Toss together and roast for 25 minutes. Check halfway through and toss around if needed. *When 5 minutes are left on the sweet potatoes, place the pecans on a roasting sheet and roast for 5 minutes making sure to watch that they don’t burn. Take out at the same time as the sweet potatoes. Roughly chop the pecans and set aside.

Now to de-rib your kale. Rinse and pat dry your kale. To de-rib, run a knife alongside the stem to detach the leaves. You can get a visual here. Layer all the kale leaves on top of each other and chop the kale into small pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a mason jar or small bowl, add all dressing ingredients. Shake or whisk to combine.

To the bowl of kale add the cooked quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pecans. Drizzle with a good portion of the dressing. Using a pair of tongs, give everything a really good toss until everything is coated in dressing. Kale is not a lettuce you can just pour dressing over the top. Your have to mix and toss and coat it with dressing.

Plate and serve with a bit of salt and pepper on top.


Another favorite fall kale salad is my Fall Panzanella with Cornbread Croutons!


Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

"That screams fall," said my roommate after taking one bite. It sure does and now I pretty much want to eat it every day in the coming season. 

If you aren't familiar, a panzanella salad is local to Italy, made of bread and tomatoes, sometimes onions and basil, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Panzanella now comes in many shapes and forms. For instance, this recipe uses cornbread as the bread component. I have a soft spot for cornbread. My family makes a basic cornbread that we put with just about every soup, stew, and chili we make. But pumpkin cornbread, I can't. I'm SOLD!

I love the layers of flavors and textures and temperatures in this salad. Warm roasted fall veggies, cold crisp apple and toasty pumpkin cornbread all with a maple vinaigrette. It's dense enough to have for dinner, but excellent for lunch too. 

A cornbread mix will totally suffice in this recipe since you are making them into croutons. If you can find a pumpkin cornbread mix-buy it, if you can't-make one, or just use regular cornbread. It will still be delish!

Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons adapted from Purely Elizabeth
serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish*

2 cups butternut squash, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces
2 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
1 medium red onion, chopped into small wedges
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 honey crisp apple
2 cups pumpkin cornbread, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces **see note
10 oz bag tuscan kale

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and onion. Place veggies in columns on a foil lined roasting sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies. Season everything with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cinnamon over only the butternut squash. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, stirring halfway though.

In the meantime, cut your cornbread into 1/2 pieces and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Once the veggies are done, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and toast the cornbread for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crispy.

In a small mason jar or bowl combine dressing ingredients. Chop the honey crisp apple into a medium dice. 

To assemble; put kale in a large salad bowl. Top with roasted veggies, apple, croutons and drizzle with dressing. Toss and serve. 

*Single girl serving: Have all the components ready to go, but only toss one serving with the dressing. Keep everything else in the fridge to pull out each night for dinner. Store the veggies in the fridge and reheat, only cut part of the apple you are going to use and store the croutons wrapped in foil sitting out on the counter.

**Note: I used this pumpkin cornbread mix which is sadly now discontinued, but this recipe minus the pecans or this recipe are great. Regular cornbread would work too. Save the time and use a mix. You shush 'em up when you toast them anyway!

I kid you not when I say I have genuinely gotten so excited for dinner knowing I have this waiting for me. It's got it all going on.