Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kale Quinoa Salad with Hazelnuts Pesto

My daughter sent me a text the other day telling me about a new food truck in Union Square (NYC) that serves primarily raw organic food.  She raved about their quinoa kale salad that she described as "literally the best thing I've ever had".  Very high praise, so I offered to try and deconstruct it for her and come up with a recipe that she could make at home.  

The salad was dressed with a hazelnut pesto, that she said "made the salad"  so that's where I started.  

I picked a cup of fresh basil leaves from the garden and put them in my food processor with 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley. I processed this until the nuts were very fine. 

Next, I moved on to the kale.  I used curly kale because it would hold the dressing better than a flat leaf variety.
I removed the large stems and cut the kale up into bit sized pieces.  

Then, I made a mixture of 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to   pour over the kale.  You want to use your hands to really work it into the kale so that the lemon juice and salt will "cook" the kale, similar to how ceviche is made.

You really should cook the quinoa first so that it has time to cool before you put the salad together.  You could even cook it the day before you want to make the salad. 

The last step is to mix together the kale, quinoa, hazelnut pesto and a 1/2 cup of dried cranberries.

I thought this salad came out great.  It's full of "super" foods and high in protein.  Whether or not it resembles what my daughter had on the food truck, well, she'll have to let me know.

Kale Quinoa Salad with Hazelnut Pesto
Serves 6 as a side salad - Use organic ingredients whenever possible

 1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 bunch curly kale
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer
Put the rinsed quinoa in a pot over a medium high heat.
Stir the quinoa every 10 seconds or so for at least a minute or two and the quinoa starts to make a popping sound.
Add the water, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low.
Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
Remove the cover and let it cool without stirring for at least 15 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, rinse the kale and remove the stems.
Cut enough kale into bite sized pieces to make 6 cups.
Put the kale in a large bowl.
Mix together the 2 teaspoons of oil, the lemon juice and the salt.
Pour the lemon juice mixture over the kale and mix well with your hands, working the dressing into the leaves.
Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, remaining olive oil, basil, parsley and garlic until finely ground.
Add the quinoa and hazelnut pesto to the kale and stir gently.
Stir in the cranberries.
Serve immediately or chill and serve later.


  1. Can't WAIT to try this, looks like a perfect salad. Might have trouble getting the hazelnuts tho, will have to look around. Everything else, no problem.
    Thanks, J!

  2. You could use pine nuts or even almonds if you can't find hazelnuts.

  3. Guess I'll have to buy a food processor!