This was the fall roasted carrot, kale and quinoa salad I made for Potluck in the Park last week, which BTW was such a blast.
So many friends and friends of friends came with the BEST food. There were kids everywhere playing and it was so fun seeing everyone hanging out, eating on picnic blankets and enjoying a chill night in the park.
I’ll post a few pics down below so you can see. I’ll definitely be doing this again in the Spring. I think it needs to become a semi-annual thing… I’m really excited about it if you can’t tell.
When I was debating what to make – which is the hardest part of these kind of things for me. I always “add ice cream” as my old co-workers used to say. This became our phrase for when everything’s done and ready, everything’s just fine as it is… but then someone says “wouldn’t it be cool if…” or “what if we…” That’s ice cream. It’s totally not necessary. Everyone’s just fine with cake….
I am queen of this. I am constantly making myself crazy adding ice cream when no one needs ice cream. Like when at one point I thought I was going to be making 6 dishes for this little potluck…
I talked myself off the ice cream ledge and ended up making just three instead….
And this roasted carrot, kale and quinoa salad was my main numero dish I was dead set on bringing.
I love those first few tastes of fall, when you get a sip or bite of something and all the fall feels come flooding back.
I also just love me a good old fashioned kale and quinoa salad. It’s the perfect salad base when you’re feeding a crowd.
The Kale Salad Trick
Did you know there is a trick to making raw kale taste good? If you’ve had kale salads in the past and haven’t been a fan, it probably wasn’t prepared this way.
I see this a lot in restaurants and salad bars especially. Kale gets tossed in a salad in it’s natural rough, tough and super bitter form.
I don’t even like raw kale. No one does. Bugs don’t even want to eat it, it’s so bitter.
So what are all these kale-lovin’ people doing that kale haters are not?
The trick is you gotta give kale a little TLC.
Think of it like a friend who’s in a bad mood after a long day. She’s a different person after a drink, a hug and a little time.
Kale works like that, too.
So, here’s what you do:
- Tear kale leaves away from stems and roughly chop into small pieces (the smaller the better here – think about trying to get them bite-sized).
- Put kale leaves in a large bowl and squeeze half a lemon to cover in lemon juice. Drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Using both hands, get in there and massage the kale, rub the lemon and oil into the leaves, making sure to touch each one.
- Do this for a few minutes (up to 5) and watch as the leaves turn a pretty bright green and shrink up a bit.
- Set aside and let the acids in the lemon keep working while you prepare the rest.
The leaves will be so much softer and less bitter. And the best part – because kale is a lot heartier than other greens (like spinach) massaged kale will stay well in the fridge for a few days (even up to 5) and won’t get soggy and gross.
Really, you gotta try this. I’ve seen it turn many a kale hater into an eater. I won’t go as far to say lover… but close.
Give it a try with this roasted, carrot, kale and quinoa salad…
Roasted Carrot, Kale & Quinoa Salad
1 cup red quinoa*
1-2 tbsp avocado oil or melted virgin coconut oil
1 bunch carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 small red onion, cut into crescents
1 bunch dinosaur kale, leaves torn and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small orange or 1/2 large orange, juiced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread carrots and onion out evenly across sheet. drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with garam masala, sea salt and black pepper.
Roast at 400° for 30 minutes. When done, take out of oven to cool.
While carrots and onion roast, prepare quinoa:
Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil. While water heats, rinse quinoa well by placing a bowl and covering with water. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, repeat 3 times. If your quinoa is packaged and pre-washed (check the pack) then you can skip this step. Add quinoa, cover and cook 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed.
To prepare salad:
place roughly chopped kale leaves in bowl. Add olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale leaves, working the lemon and olive oil into every leaf. Do this for a few minutes until the greens will turn a bright green and shrink up a little bit.
Add quinoa, roasted veggies, pecans and raisins and toss to combine everything really well. Drizzle with orange juice and toss again.
** If you don’t have garam masala or want to give it a different flavor, you could substitute thyme or rosemary. Or a combo of cinnamon and a little cayenne and/or paprika would be good too.
P.S. If you like food like this and want to start making eating beautiful salads, delicious veggies and awesome home-cooked meals part of your regular thing, check out Dinner in 10. It teaches you a system and gets you in a routine where you can make meals like this – for breakfast lunch and dinner 5 nights a week. And the best part: you can do it in 10 MINUTES. Get all the deets and sign up here.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps families find healthy routines that work, with no more “what’s for dinner?” stress, and a lot better food. Her family meal plans help moms take charge of their kitchen and their own health, leading to more vegetables and less junk all around. Megan also shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.