This kale salad is far from average! This Not Your Average Kale Salad is full of fresh kale leaves dressed up with a Creamy Vidalia Onion Dressing tossed with nutty quinoa, salty parmesan, sweet grapes and crunchy sunflower seeds!
I absolutely love this salad because it offers an amazing combination of textures and flavors PLUS is chock full of nutrient dense ingredients!
I first had this at a summertime BBQ when the weather was hot and anything cold, crunchy and fresh had me salivating. I piled my plate high with the greens and dressed it generously; I wasn’t holding back on something that looked so delicious. It wasn’t but 5 minutes later that I had devoured my salad and was back in line grabbing more; it is seriously that satisfying & addicting!
There are many types of kale to choose from, all of which are packed with vitamins and minerals, but for today’s salad, I will be using curly kale. I prefer this type of kale for raw salads because the tightly curled leaves give fullness to a salad and they trap all the salad’s flavors in their tight curls. TIP: Curly kale tends to have a bitter taste. After thoroughly washing (to remove any remaining dirt/grit) and drying the kale, massage the leaves with olive oil. This will not only take away some of its bitterness but will also help in making the texture softer and more enjoyable!
Quinoa is a superfood that is full of nutrients and packs a punch of protein! This ingredient paired with kale creates the perfect picture of health. Feel free to use any variety of quinoa you prefer–I like to use white quinoa because it contrasts beautifully with the green kale leaves! Just be sure you give your quinoa a quick rinse before cooking.
To give this salad a little punch of saltiness, parmesan cheese is sprinkled throughout! I love the texture and saltiness the shredded/grated parmesan (you know, the kind that looks like little sticks and comes in a plastic container) brings to this salad. You’ll find the parmesan sticks hidden in the curls of the kale and without knowing, you get this explosion of flavor with your bite!
Now, we have given the salty taste buds something to cheer about, so that can only mean one thing…adding a layer of SWEET! Introducing grapes. Adding grapes to this salad may seem a little odd, but trust me.
Remember those clumps of parmesan throughout the salad? Well, imagine the flavor combination of the saltiness from the parmesan paired with the creaminess from the dressing and the perfect little pop of sweet from the grapes. It’s divine and it will make you go back for more (why else would I have finished two huge plates within 10 minutes?) I prefer the purple grapes because they add a beautiful new color to the mix!
Last but not least, sunflower seeds. Talk about texture, these bad boys lend the perfect crunch and nutty flavor to this salad! The sunflower seeds can also be substituted with walnuts, pepitas, or pine nuts!
My creamy Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing is the icing on the cake for this salad. (Did I really just use a cake idiom for a HEALTHY SALAD?! sorry)
I prefer using this homemade dressing because it doesn’t have all the fillers and additives that store bought dressing has. The bonus: it is super easy to whip up and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients! (If you chose not to make your own dressing, don’t be ashamed, just get a dressing with a sweet kick)
Not Your Average Kale Salad
A crisp, refreshing kale salad mixed with quinoa, parmesan, grapes and sunflower seeds all tossed in a creamy, cool vegan Vidalia onion dressing.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
1 large bunch kale
1 C quinoa, cooked
1 C grapes
1/2 C parmesan, shredded (or the pre-packaged sticks)
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. (If bought in bulk, be sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking.) Once fully cooked, set aside to cool.
2. With stems still intact, rinse kale leaves carefully to be sure all dirt is removed. With a towel, remove as much water as possible then set on a towel and let leaves dry completely. Once dry, remove the leaves from the stems and tear the kale leaves into pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle kale with olive oil and massage making sure you cover all pieces and crevices. Place in fridge.
3. Cut grapes in half lengthwise, set aside. If using a block of parmesan, shred 1/2 cup and set aside.
4. In a large bowl combine the massaged kale and cooled quinoa. Add grapes, cheese, and sunflower seeds. Toss gently to combine all ingredients thoroughly, then add the dressing (if serving immediately) and mix gently until the dressing coats each piece of kale. Feel free to garnish the top with some of the ingredients! Serve immediately, or place in the fridge to keep cold.