Your New Favorite Salad: Quinoa, Kale Salad. With Grapes. And Marcona Almonds. And You’re Welcome.

December 9, 2013

A few weeks ago, I found myself at La Grande Orange Cafe. We were getting pizza, but honestly, at this time of the Holly Holidays, I really just need a salad. My body is craving salad. Nutrients! Anything that’s not sugar-coated! One problem, I’m not a huge lover of salad. I try. I do. I know it’s good for me, but Friends, around here, the Holiday season looks like this:

And that’s fine for like a day, but by now my body really needs this:

This is broccoli in my garden. It is not ready yet. The kale isn’t ready yet either, and I’m actually reeally craving kale. Desperate times, Friends.

Related: I’ve been thinking about this super swell kale and quinoa salad that The Ace Hotel Palm Springs added to their menu at Camp Mighty this year. I know it well because I ate the thing at least twice a day. Once, I had it for breakfast. Also, have I mentioned how much I don’t like salad? I had it for breakfast.

So anyway, we stopped in to La Grande Orange Cafe to get pizza. I was with Carrie and John Pacini, and we all ordered this salad for starters. And then we ate it all up and we loved it more than the pizza and it totally turned our spirits up to 11 and then we built a house. Of course we didn’t build a house, but we completely felt like we could…because of the kale. I’m not even kidding about this.

So then I found this recipe and then remembered some things I liked about The Ace recipe and I put them together in my mind and did my own thing a bit. And now, I’m completely addicted to this salad and could eat it everyday, and try it; you won’t be disappointed.

Kale Quinoa Salad with Grapes and Other Goodness

What You’ll Need:

For the Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Two pinches of kosher salt…I used lemon salt because I had it. But regular salt is also great.

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. I used lemon flavored EVOO because I had it. But regular oil is also great.

3/4 teaspoon chopped parsley

Ground black pepper

For the Salad:

1/2 cup quinoa

4 cups loosely packed julienned kale. My grocery store sells kale in giant bags now. I hope yours does, too.

Champagne vinaigrette (that you made…ingredients above, directions below)

1/2 cup of Marcona Almonds. Or more. Up to you. I could eat 12 bags of Marcona Almonds if left unsupervised.

1/4 cup diced bell pepper. Chose your color(s)

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese

What You’ll Do:

1. Make the dressing:  Chop the shallots. This part takes the longest. Then chop the parsley. I hate chopping.

Then add the vinegar, salt, both oils and pepper. And presto, you have your vinaigrette.

2. Cook the quinoa. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Cook the quinoa per directions on the quinoa box/bag. Basically, cook it until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and do what you gotta do to let it cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and covered and refrigerated for 2 days before using.

3. Compile the salad. In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Mix the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened. 

To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, almonds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Mix it all up.

4. Serve. Sprinkle the salad with the Manchego cheese. 

And Enjoy!

Seriously, go make this. It will get you through December. Plus if you eat this anytime you’re not eating cookies, you can eat more cookies. That’s just math.

Happy December!

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  • Reply Carrie Pacini December 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I am so happy that you found that recipe! I am totally going to make it this week and build a few houses while I am at it 🙂

  • Laura Harrison Mayes
    Reply Laura December 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Carrie, this is adapted from the original. Theirs has sunflower seeds, different oils, and preserved lemons, for starters. Preserved lemons are amazing, but I don’t have time for that. There are a few other things. I honestly still think the original is better, but this is a close second. And the Marcona Almonds are ridiculous. The Ace Hotel makes its version with figs. Which is swell.

  • Reply Sheri | Really Most Sincerely December 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Oh, bless your soul. This is like that Ace salad? I could have eaten a trough of that. Thank you!!!

  • Reply Laurie December 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I tend to look askance at quinoa, but this looks so good I want to eat my screen, so I’m forging ahead.

  • Reply Marie December 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Love the look of your salad!
    Looks delicious and definitely healthy, I need to prepare this to make the holidays healthier and slimmer. 😀

  • Reply Tracy December 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Made this salad last week and loved it. And it’s so beautiful with the dark green kale,the red peppers and the little white quinoa scattered all over the kale leaves. Thank you!

  • Reply Kate April 1, 2014 at 5:20 am

    I love kale and this recipe sounds great! I’m a fan of quinoa, cheese, grapes, almonds, and champagne vinaigrette so what’s not to like here? It’s nice to know the original salad featured sunflower seeds as I often add them to salads and have them in the house. It would also likely be very good with pine nuts. And perhaps dried cranberries instead of grapes for a change of pace. Or cherry tomatoes. The combination possibilities abound!

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