Healthy Summer Grub: Quinoa, Kale and Avocado Salad Recipe

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Quinoa SaladOk, so according to the calendar, it may not be summer quite yet, but in California, the avocados are just starting to ripen, which is how I mark the start of the season. And when the weather starts getting warmer, I start turning to lighter, fresh meals. This quinoa-based salad is easy to prepare, and contains so many of my favorite healthy ingredients.

I’m always surprised that quinoa hasn’t caught on mainstream, given how easy it is too cook, and its high nutritional content. Despite the fact that in cooking it’s treated like rice or barley, quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain. Known as the staple of the Incas (and also a staple of the vegans, as it’s a complete protein), this crop originated in the Andes Mountains. It’s used more often in Mexican dishes, but I really enjoy it in this Asian-inspired salad.

The kale is chock full of iron and the nori is rich in calcium and iodine. If you opt for a fat-free dressing, then the only fat comes from the avocado. (Which is, you know, a good fat… at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m scarfing down guacamole.) Here’s the full recipe:

1 Cup uncooked quinoa
3 Stalks of kale
1 Sheet of dried nori
1/2 Cucumber
1/2 Cup pine nuts
1 Avocado
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Salad dressing to taste*

In a small point combine one cup quinoa with 2 cups of salted water and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower heat, simmering for about 15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, remove the stems from the kale. Discard and chop the leaves finely, adding them to a large bowl. The nori can be difficult to cut, so you may find it easier to just break off very small pieces to add to the salad. You can leave the skin on the cucumber, but remove the seeds and chop into small pieces.

Add the pine nuts and sesame seeds to the kale, nori and cucumbers. Add the avocado last (as you don’t want it to brown). Halve it, remove peel and pit, and chop into small pieces. Add to the salad along with the vinegar and lemon juice. Once the quinoa has cooked, stir it with a fork and transfer to the fridge to cool.

*My short cut on this salad is that I use a pre-made dressing. My favorite is the organic Shiitake and Sesame Vinaigrette from Annie’s Naturals. They have a number of Asian-inspired dressings that would work well, and you could certainly make your own. (Any combo of soy, ginger, and sesame would be great.) Add the dressing to the salad, along with the quinoa once it has cooled.

As a full meal this serves two, but it would also be a great side dish. Because it’s served cold, it’s also a perfect meal to take to go. Take it to the office for lunch, or bring it along on your next picnic.

For some other light salads, check out these recipes:

Beet Salad with Orange and Fennel
Wild Harvested Redwood Sorrel Salad
Early Spring Sunshine Salad

15 thoughts on “Healthy Summer Grub: Quinoa, Kale and Avocado Salad Recipe”

  1. I am so confused about the difference between seeds and grains. After i was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue (got to eat gluten free) they told me even millet & quinoa were a no no. Then they changed it recently and said yes, they are ok cause they are seeds. But I thought all grain was the seed of that grass or plant?
    BTW – that recipe looks so delicious! yum yum !!!

  2. Thanks Meredith!

    Leslie: All of the research I have done shows that quinoa is gluten-free and safe for those with Celiac’s. (Though I’m not a nutritionist, and it would be best to consult your Physician on that to be safe.)

    Quinoa is what’s known as a “pseudocereal” meaning that it acts like a grain, but is a non-grass plant that isn’t a true cereal.

    I hope that makes sense??

  3. Sharon, this looks amazing! I’m guessing it doesn’t keep because of the avocado, is that right?

  4. Meredith:
    I have a box of quinoa – the heirloom variety sitting on my counter for a few days. I am looking forward to trying them. I now know that they are seeds.

  5. Note about Celiac: I am a Celiac and quinoa and millet were the first “new” grains that my nutritionist suggested I try. She has been diagnosed for something like 15 years and is considered an “expert” in the field…giving talks, writing in medical journals, etc. Also, give buckwheat a try.

  6. Rachel: It’ll keep for maybe 2 days in the fridge. The avocado will brown a little, but it won’t go bad right away.

    Sally: Thanks for the info. I was pretty sure it was safe, but I’d never talked to any experts about it.

  7. That looks so delicious! I love quinoa, and I get avos pretty much year-round here (I spread it on morning toast with some chili instead of butter and jam!), so I’m gonna whip up a batch this weekend!

  8. Thanks Ya’ll for the info on whether Quinoa is a gluten grain, I will certainly discuss with my doctor to find out more about this- since i have not eaten those grains (as advised) now for seven years… a whole new world could open up :)

  9. I saw this posted on Tastespotting (before it disappeared, tear…) and fortunately had the foresight to bookmark the recipe.

    I made it tonight and it’s DELICIOUS! Great for hot summer nights. Thanks for this!

  10. To make the avocados keep longer I tossed them in the lemon juice before adding both to the salad.

    I love this salad! It’s like a cucumber avocado sushi roll but as a salad instead!

  11. Hi Sharon,

    seems like you’re one of the favorites among the Quinoa crowd… just posted several recipes with Quinoa (Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers + Quinoa Risotto) on my site, along with an overview post on “What is Quinoa?” I’d love your opinion – hope you have a few minutes in your busy day…

    Happy and Healthy Cooking,
    Skinny Chef

    P.S. Almost forgot the URL:

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