A new restaurant opened recently, fairly close to our home. It’s too far to walk, but it’s right on the way to Costco and Trader Jo’s, both of which we tend to be frequent-flyers at.
The cute little café serves super-fresh, farm-to-table, salads, soups and other delicious entrees. Most everything is made with local ingredients, which we love to support. Scott and I ate lunch there a few weeks ago, and had the BEST salad. The only problem was…
they were a little stingy with some of the ingredients. I found just a few chunks of avocado and not even as many tiny pieces of the delicious smokey bacon. But I loved the combination of healthy, fresh ingredients and decided to go home and try to reinvent the wonderful salad.
My first attempt was “not quite there” but my chief taste-tester, (Scott) and I tossed ideas around about what needed to be modified/changed. I tinkered with it and then served it again the following day. It was perfect, and had lots of all the super great ingredients that were in the original salad. Yipee! I was pumped!
Just to make sure it was as good as I thought, (and blog-worthy) I served it to my son Nick and his wife, Lindsay, one evening last week. They loved it, and were super happy when I gave them the leftovers for their lunch the next day. They both shared that the salad was just as good the second day! I love dishes like this; that you can make ahead and enjoy them for another day or two.
If you’re not familiar with quinoa (pronounced, KEEN-wah), it’s regarded as a super food; it’s gluten-free, a complete protein and loaded with fiber, iron and antioxidants. Quinoa is often called an “ancient grain” and it’s purported to have been around for 3,000 to 4,000 years! A staple in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru for thousands of years, it was also a mainstay for the Inca Indians. Quinoa has gained popularity and respect in the United States over the past ten years, as people have discovered how nutrient-rich, versatile and delicious it is.
Pick up some quinoa, a few crunchy red apples and a some good smokey bacon next time you’re at the market. Oh, and while you’re at it, throw a few avocados, a bag of kale and a jar of roasted, salted sunflower seeds in your basket too.
You probably have everything else you need right in your pantry to make this delicious Quinoa and Kale Salad with Avocados, Apples and Bacon. You’ll be all set to create a fabulous lunch or dinner; and hear lots of rave reviews!
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- For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
- 3 cups cooked quinoa*
- 8 cups fairly fine chopped kale
- 2 medium red crisp apples diced in 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 medium avocados diced in 1/2 inch pieces
- 6-8 strips good smokey bacon (I like applewood-smoked), cut in 1/2 inch pieces, cooked until crisp and drained on paper towels
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
Combine red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.
Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a small amount of the apples, avocados, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds for the top. Add 1/4 cup of the dressing and gently toss. Sprinkle the reserved ingredients over the top. Pass extra dressing at the table.
* I use this method for making perfect quinoa . Just for your information, 1 cups uncooked quinoa will yield 3 cups cooked quinoa. I love to cook a pot of quinoa on the weekends and then use it for salads, in oatmeal and for sides all week long.