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.
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.