Even if I eat the very best that I can during the holidays, the minute the celebrations are over, my body craves greens, salad, soups and anything else healthy and comforting it can get it’s hands on.
This year, the morning after Christmas the hubby and I hopped into the car with the pooch and headed off to Palm Springs for a much-needed, relaxing 3-day getaway. We stayed at the Ace Hotel, which we simply adore. Despite the chilly desert weather, we enjoyed the time away, snuck in some pool side cocktails, a couples massage and lots of laying around.
The best part about getting away for me, is letting other people do the cooking, for once. As much as I enjoy doing it, it has still become a job, of sorts, for me and oftentimes I look forward to those moments when someone else is serving me something delicious and nourishing, that I didn’t have to slave over.
While we were away, one morning I had a delicious kale and quinoa salad for breakfast at the King’s Highway, the fab diner at the Ace. I had it topped with a poached egg and it was exactly what I needed. But as usual, I immediately started dreaming of ways I could make it better. I obviously cannot take total credit for this, but this salad is my take on their dish. I changed some things around, I opted for baby kale, rather than regular raw kale (which I find can be slightly bitter, at times), I also added some sliced avocado and chose toasted, spiced, shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for crunch rather than Marcona almonds, the caramelized shallots replaced onions. Also, I feel like I can say this, my vinaigrette puts theirs to shame.
This Baby Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Avocado and Citrus Hibiscus Vinaigrette is incredible on it’s own or as a side, or you can make an even heartier meal by adding some grilled chicken or fish or a poached egg for a delicious breakfast salad!
[print_this]Baby Kale & Quinoa Salad with Dates, Avocado and Citrus Hibiscus Vinaigrette
Serves 2-3 big hearty meal salads or 4-6 small side salads
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water or broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small shallots, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups baby kale
1/2 cup pitted and diced Medjool dates (about 3-4 dates)
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup toasted no-shell pepitas, almonds or any other nut or seed that you like, optional
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the dry, uncooked quinoa to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted. Add the water or broth and the minced garlic. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Once cooked, remove from the pan and cool the quinoa.
While the quinoa is cooking, caramelize the shallots. Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and saute the shallots until soft and golden but not burned, about 20-30 minutes. Cool the shallots to room temperature.
Assemble the salad by tossing the baby kale and the quinoa together in a bowl with the chopped dates. Arrange the salad in an even layer on a serving platter and sprinkle the pepitas (or other nuts) over top. Spread the avocado slices on top of the salad and top that with the caramelized shallots. Drizzle the vinaigrette (recipe below) over the salad just before serving (it will wilt the greens the longer it sits). Season with a little salt and pepper.
- 1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons honey (or maple syrup)
- salt and pepper, to taste
While the quinoa and shallots cool, make the vinaigrette. Add all of the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
The quinoa, shallots and vinaigrette can all be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the salad
If I plan to make this salad right away, once the quinoa is cooked, I spread it into an even layer on a cookie sheet and place it in the fridge to cool it off quicker.