Kale and Quinoa Salad

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Marie Claire asked me several months ago whether I had any kale recipes on my blog, embarrassed at the time I muttered no sorry. What sort of blogger was I not having a kale recipe to call upon when put on the spot and especially kale, these days it's an adjective for healthy eating. It's not like I'd been avoiding the herbaceous greens, on the contrary I'd been happily chewing my kale for the past two seasons. It's the first thing I grab at the local organic market, it disappears in a blink if you're not fast enough. I thought I would address the issue like a pro but unfortunately for Marie Claire her innocent question arrived at the tail end of the kale harvest, the start of summer, so whilst I was scrambling around for ingredients the star of the show was missing in action. So fast forward three months and here we are today at the first of many kale recipes.

But before I get to the salad I have an important announcement to make, my webshop Nordenblank is finally open. Totally unrelated to food, my other consuming passion is interiors and decor. So like many other entrepreneurial mothers who have graduated their kids from diapers to schools it was time to work on rebuilding my own identity after several years in the unemployment wilderness. Inspired by my travels to Asia I wanted to bring these hand-made, lovingly crafted objects to the attention of others. These are the items that resonated with me. I could easily find a place for them in my home. Each piece has it's own story to tell like the block printed cushions which started with the block carvers, involved the dye mixers, ended up at the workspace of the master printers and finished up by the seamstresses before being washed and dried by the dhobiwalas. Thats quite a history for a piece of textile. I've included two photos below of stocked items.

Back to the salad, as there is a recipe waiting it's turn. I want to confess that when I first tried quinoa, however you pronounce it "kwuh-NO-uh" or "KEEN-wah", there wasn't a natural synergy. Years later I cannot get enough of it, it's the perfect bulking complement to vegetables and pulses. I chanced upon this salad at Nolus, on paper it looked pretty boring but that afternoon I was in the mood for quinoa. Fifteen minutes later I was glad I took the risk as it marked the spot. It's a dream to prepare, so easy and when it's done there is no stopping me, like the roasted cauliflower salad it's difficult to resist a second serving. And there is probably nothing more I could add that you don't already know about kale, leafy greens and all that but I thought this ancient Turkish saying sums it up; “Every leaf of kale you chew adds another stem to your tree of life.” Meral, have you heard this before? Truthful or not I'm a lifetime member of the kale fan club.

Kale and Quinoa Salad
It's okay to skip the nutritional yeast if it's not something you would stock in your cupboard.

1 cup quinoa
1 bunch of curly kale
1/2 red capsicum
1 small lebanese cucumber
1 small fennel bulb
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted almonds

Rinse and rub the quinoa grains with your fingers under running water. Drain and place in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of boiling water to the quinoa with a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the germ, tiny spirals, curling around the seed. Remove from the heat, and rest for 5 minutes before turning out into a large bowl to cool.

Wash the kale and trim off the stems, tear into bite size pieces and set aside. Remove the capsicum seeds and membranes and slice into thin strips, cut the strips in half if they are too long. Wash and slice the cucumber in quarters length-ways and cut out the seeds and membranes. Slice these on an angle into thin strips too. Wash and trim the fennel and slice at an angle into equivalent strips.

Prepare the lemon vinaigrette by placing the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper in a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously for a uniform consistency and taste it, you're looking for a slight tang.

Add the vegetables to the cooled quinoa and add 4 tablespoons of the lemon vinaigrette, mix thoroughly before topping with the toasted almonds. Serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

Serves 4