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The “Make it Your Own” Kale Quinoa Salad


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The “Make it Your Own” Kale Quinoa Salad

Katie Schur

There was a time a few years back when I was watching way too many reruns of "Chopped" on the Food Network. I was completely spellbound by watching the competing chefs transform a list of random, surprise ingredients into an app, entrée and dessert in each round. I’ve taken this practice on way to many times in my own kitchen. Those “well… let’s see what’s in the fridge tonight…” moments have turned out several dinner disasters, but occasionally the experimentation has led to a recipe gem.

This is one of those adaptable recipes. You don’t need to run to the grocery store for the one thing that you don’t have on hand. But you do need to use leafy greens that are going to hold up nicely in the sauce. I have a note below that you can use a variety of greens and veggies in this recipe, but it’s still important to pick things that won’t get all mushy in the sauce. This recipe tastes better if you let the salad soak in the sauce for a little bit before serving. That’s why kale is the perfect green to pick. Lettuce just isn’t a very good candidate for this recipe.


The base
-1 cup of quinoa*
*any color is fine, but be sure to read the cooking instructions on the package. The darker the quinoa the longer it usually takes to cook.  In a pinch, I’ve also tried this recipe with couscous. Although it wasn’t nearly as good, it saved me a trip to the grocery store.

The greens (Pick one or two)

*I love tuscan or baby leaf kale because it’s more tender and easy to throw in a salad, but you can use dinosaur or curly if you trim away the stalks and give it a good massage  

The extras (Pick two or three -my favorite combo is using carrots, beets and roasted red peppers)
-Shredded carrots
-Roasted chopped beets (you can roast your own or save some time by trying these)
-Chopped roasted red peppers from a jar
-Chopped scallions
-Sliced radishes
-Snap or snow peas
-Fresh sweet or thai basil

The sauce

-1 tablespoon of ginger sauce* or a grated 1 inch piece of ginger
-1/2 tablespoon of lime juice
-1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1/3 cup of unsalted creamy peanut butter
-2 tablespoons of fish sauce or soy sauce
-1/2 tbsp of brown sugar or honey
-1 tsp red chili flakes (omit if you don’t like spicy)

*Ginger sauce is a staple in my kitchen because I use it a lot of time when baking or juicing. However, I love the taste of freshly grated ginger. In this case both will work just fine!


1.     Cook the quinoa according to package directions. For me, usually 1 cup of quinoa requires 2 cups of water and about 10 minutes in a pot of boiling water.
2. While your quinoa is cooking, assemble your chopped vegetables and greens in a large bowl
3. In a mason jar, add the ingredients for the sauce. Cover the mason jar and shake to blend. You could always use a whisk and bowl for this part as well, but I find that the mason jar is the easiest and least messy method.
3. Remove the quinoa from the stove and let cool about 5-10 minutes
4. Add the quinoa to the salad bowl with all the greens and veggies. Pour the sauce over the greens. Start out using the sauce minimally until you get a ratio that you like. Remember the veggies and quinoa will soak up the sauce with time.

5. You can eat it immediately or you can let it rest and absorb the sauce before serving (approx.. 30 minutes to an hour). This recommended wait time also makes this a good salad to bring to a potluck or picnic.

Do you have a favorite recipe that’s always changing? We’d love to hear about it @picnicperfectco.