Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Almond Butter Vinaigrette and Purple Sweet Potato

Dressed in a mouthwatering vinaigrette made with creamy almond butter, this colorful, crunchy Kale and Quinoa Salad will have you full for hours and feeling oh so good!!

It hasn't been long since I began striving for a diet rich in whole foods, whole grains, proteins and fiber. When dining out and crappy food at work gets too morbid, I develop fervid cravings for a day or two of "vegging out" - not so much being a couch potato, but going happily meatless, high fiber, and low carb where possible.

So when my gorgeous, one-and-only vegan cousin Kathleen suggested a modern vegetarian restaurant as a venue for reunion on my recent, much overdue visit to Toronto, I was all up for it. Needless to say, I was eager to detox after a strenuous 15-hour flight. 

A cousinly reunion at Fresh, Toronto, Jun 2014
Five years since my last seeing my cousins, our party has merrily multiplied with Kathleen and Matt both marrying this year, and Jon and William both in relationships. Some time amidst our chatter catching up and acquainting with their new partners, our platters and bowls arrived, throwing all of us off with their colours, portions, and aroma as I raised my camera in a frenzy (of course). 

As I chomped into my bowlful of greens, I thought to myself in between moans, "hey, I can totally do this at home." Much like their vivid colours, kale greens are intense in flavour with a mild bitterness and are best complimented by strongly flavoured ingredients like roasted nuts and nutty or sesame-based dressings. So here, a wholesome recipe inspired by my cousin's favorite dish at Fresh, Toronto - perfect for those days when veggie cravings hit.

3 Tbsp almond butter 
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar 
1/2 Tbsp honey, or maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tspn kecap manis (not pictured; optional)
1 tspn minced garlic
2-3 Tbsp warm water 

Kale, shredded
Quinoa, cooked according to package instructions (I used organic red quinoa)
Cucumber, shredded
Goji berries, aka. wolfberries
Almonds, toasted and chopped

Sweet potato, grilled or boiled (optional) 

To prepare...

Make the dressing first to allow flavors to mingle. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, adding water until desired consistency is reached.

Mix together all salad ingredients and toss with dressing. Serve sweet potato alongside.

Note: Fresh and raw kale from your farmers market or groceries works excellently for this salad. If you find your kale too tough or acrid to the bite as in my case using packaged and pre-shredded kale indicated for cooking, simply boil some water, turn the heat off, then immerse the leaves for no more than 20 seconds. The leaves will turn brilliantly green while preserving their nutrients. Drain, reserving the boiled water, and run the leaves under the tap to cool. Use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture if desired. The spines will take longer to soften, simply leave in the hot water and add to salad when ready to serve. Enjoy!

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