SOS Blueberries: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Blueberry Vinaigrette
This past weekend, the HH and I made the trek back to Montreal to help fête my dad for his 90th birthday. Nope, that’s not a typo–he turned 90 last week! We held a little party at his favorite restaurant, where my father, his girlfriend (a mere babe at 78 years old), my two sisters and their beaux along with the HH and I were all in attendance. Apart from asking us all to speak a little more loudly than we would otherwise, my dad has no special requests for someone who’s survived nine decades (unless you count asking me to read the menu for him, since he’d forgotten his reading glasses at home). After the presents, the songs and the speeches, we toasted his good health–and wished him another decade or two of good health. :D
[Dad and me at the dinner table. Why is my hand up in the air, you wonder? Me, too. ]
I had no worries about the meal, since the restaurant is always extremely accommodating for anyone with dietary restrictions. What did worry me, however, was the 6-hour drive across Highway 401. No matter how much the provincial rest stops are renovated to include hip eateries like “Le Croissant” or how well stocked are the modern vending machines, I can never find anything to eat on the road. As a result, we never leave town without a fully stocked cooler, and that way I know I’ll enjoy a delicious homemade lunch while the HH munches on his rubbery turkey club picked up at the Tim Horton’s en route. This time round, I brought two types of salad leftovers, which I enjoyed immensely. (Aside from today’s recipe, the other salad was a fabulous variation on my mock tuna salad–recipe on the DDD Facebook page, here). Unlike the route to Montreal (or the course of true love), however, the path to this salad did not run smooth.
For my second submission to this month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge on blueberries, I knew I wanted a savory dish–and salad seemed an obvious choice. My first attempt was a simple green salad topped with this stellar dressing. But something was amiss; pairing that amazing dressing with plain ole greens felt sort of like going to the Oscars wearing a black strapless Oscar de la Renta gown and then pairing it with dayglo orange Reeboks (Oh, wait, Cybill Shepherd already did that).
[Does this salad look like Cybill Shepherd to you?]
So next I thought, how about a warm kale salad? I love buckwheat and–not sure what possessed me ont his one–I was certain the rustic flavor would pair well with the juicy sweetness of the berries. I imagined a warm salad with barely wilted greens that would provide a perfect base for a creamy, tangy, purple dressing.
Um, nope. What I got instead was a mushy, muted mess underscored with an overpowering nuttiness of buckwheat. Ooops.
[It may look pretty on the outside, but it's just mush inside.]
By the third try, it finally hit me: I like cooked kale, but I love raw kale. And quinoa is the perfect grain as a base for just about any cold salad; why not combine the two? I knew that the mild toastiness of quinoa would work beautifully with the sassy dressing. And so, I ventured one more attempt. . . .
A fetching combination of textures, flavors and colors, this salad brings together the slight crunch and mild taste of raw kale with savory quinoa and the barely sweet tartness of blueberries. Tomato adds a burst of bright color. Once bathed in the dressing, the quinoa eventually takes on the hue and is transformed in the fridge into a smattering of miniature lavender pearls. And because the kale is raw, it travels well–as I took full advantage this past weekend.
Oh–and as we all know, kale is über healthy, which means that if you partake of this salad, you may just be celebrating your own 90th birthday one day.
“Mum, you know that kale is good for canines, too, right? Maybe if you give us that salad we could live to 90, too–that’s, like, 630 in dog years!”
Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond
A bright, crisp salad with the brilliant hue of summer blueberries. Feel free to switch up the greens; both chard or romaine would work well instead of the kale.
For the Salad:
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 bunch kale (6-8 large leaves), stems removed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1 cup (240 ml) grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped red onion
3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries
sprinkling of hemp seeds, for garnish
For the Dressing:
3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (60 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic
juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Make the salad: Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot; add the quinoa, cover, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 18 minutes; check the quinoa to ensure that all the water has been absorbed. If there is still water in the bottom of the pot, cover and simmer another 5 minutes; check again. Keep checking and cooking until all the water is absorbed, then remove from heat and turn the quinoa into a large bowl to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, wash and dry the kale. Chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl with the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil and salt. “Massage” with your (clean) hands by kneading and squeezing the kale between your thumb and fingers until it becomes shiny, softer and a shade darker. This will allow the kale to be digested more easily.
Add the tomatoes, red onion and blueberries to the bowl and toss.
Make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy (I used a hand-held blender and it worked perfectly). Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Add the cooled quinoa and toss again. Sprinkle with hemp seeds just before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.
Last Year at this Time: The Nutty Professor–In Two Parts (Homemade Sugarfree Nutella Recipe)
Two Years Ago: Blog Break
Three Years Ago: Butter Tarts, Glorious and Free (of Eggs and Dairy) (not GF, not ACD friendy)