A few months ago I went to a local restaurant called The Veggie Grill and ordered a salad (which isn’t anything out of the ordinary, I ALWAYS order salads when I go out). I tried something new though: All Hail Kale. I had never had kale, in my life. But shoot, I’m going for it.

Wow, I didn’t want the salad to end, apparently I like kale, A LOT!

Which led me to my new obsession: kale salads. Where do you even buy it? What does it look like before they chop it and throw it in a bowl? Well, I quickly found out you can get it at most stores and it is by the lettuce. Huh, who knew? And now, I have bought at least 1 bunch a week for salads. No other purpose, just salads.

And quinoa, this is new for me too. First off, how do you even pronounce it? Kin-Wa. Alright, now that I can say it without sounding like a complete tool, what the heck is this stuff? Is it rice or pasta or a grain, what? I guess it is a grain/seed. I’m still trying to understand it…So I won’t try to educate you on it, since I don’t really know much yet. BUT, I do know it has 222 calories per cooked cup and 8 grams of protein per cooked cup. So for a vegan/vegetarian option, this has protein and fiber and isn’t crazy high in calories. Which makes it a great ingredient to add to salads or as a side dish.

Quinoa and Kale Salad

Serves 2

1 cup quinoa, cooked

4 cups chopped kale (about 1 bunch)

1 large carrot

1 red bell pepper

1 can mandarin oranges, drained but reserve the juice

1 batch parsley dressing

Making the Quinoa

Toast quinoa in a sauce pan over medium heat until you can smell it cooking.

Add 1 1/2 cups water to the pan and cover until it boils. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa has almost doubled in size (like pasta and rice, it expands when it cooks). Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

*You can make the quinoa in advance (up to 2 days) and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Parsley Dressing

1 cup parsley (measure 1 cup before chopping)

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp agave

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp mandarin orange juice

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. If you don’t serve it right away, refrigerate and give it a quick whisk before you pour it.

Salad

Julienne the bell pepper

Grate the carrots

Drain the oranges and add it all to the bowl with the chopped kale, grated carrots and peppers.

Toss with the dressing and top with 1/2 a cup of quinoa on each salad. Enjoy!

A delicious addition would be some maple glazed walnuts, or any kind of maple roasted nut. I didn’t add any because well, I scarfed down my batch of maple walnuts a little too quickly.