I came home from teaching a private Sunday morning craving something hearty, healthy, maple syrupy and very Fall. This salad is epic and checks all of those boxes. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I've never been much of a "salad person", but I'm trying to be. And I'm finding the more things you put into a salad, the tastier it usually is.
This salad celebrates Fall in a big way. It's apple-forward, with a cozy maple-y dressing, crunchy warm toasted almonds, tart dried cranberries, hearty quinoa and creamy goat cheese. And let's not forget the king of the health food world, Kale. Oh hail Kale. But seriously, this salad is just lovely. It's definitely making it onto my Thanksgiving table and I hope it makes it onto yours.
On another note, I'm taking the GRE tomorrow. And not to sound desperate, but I could use all the prayers/positive vibes/well wishes I could get. You see, there's math on the GRE, and I have to write, you know, academically for TWO essays. All I know how to write about is FOOD! So writing this post is my attempt at procrastinating on those last couple pages of vocabulary words. But seriously. Send those good vibes my way. Thank you!
Autumn Kale Salad with Quinoa, Almonds, Cranberries, Apples & Goat Cheese in a Maple Vinaigrette
Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Serves 4-6 as a side
For the Salad:
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1 large bunch of Kale, (12-14oz)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 very large Honeycrisp apple, cored and thinly sliced
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and add to boiling water. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until water is completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir in a large pinch of salt, fluff with a fork and set aside.
Preheat the oven (I use my toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Toss almonds with olive oil and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until almond skins begin to crack and turn a dark brown color (watch carefully so they don't burn). You want to bring them right to the edge of burnt so they are crunchy and extremely fragrant. (Note: these make a fantastic snack on their own!) Roughly chop and set aside.
Wash and de-rib your kale. The central rib of the kale is very bitter, discard the ribs or save them for juicing. Chop the kale into bite-size pieces.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients into a airtight jar (I use a mason) and shake until combined. Pour the dressing over the kale and using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together for a good 3 minutes until the kale becomes limp and the pile decreases in size. Add dried cranberries, almonds, quinoa, apples, and goat cheese. Toss and serve.
Notes: Because of it's sturdiness kale salads actually make great left-overs. The kale does a great job of holding its shape and doesn't get soggy.