Have you ever had a meal where you distinctively remember the side dish but not the main? Side dish stealing the thunder of the main dish doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, you don’t forget.
This Kale Quinoa Salad with Oregano Lemon Vinaigrette is one of these side dishes.
Before leaving Jacksonville, FL, we went to this restaurant in an area called Town Center with Han’s brother Felix and his girlfriend Stephanie. I remember neither the restaurant name nor what I ordered for myself. However, what I didn’t forget is the side dish, a beautifully assembled kale quinoa salad served on a simple white plate. Other than the dark green kale and yellowish quinoa, the dried cranberries and pine nuts sprinkled on top of the dish totally brightened it up even more. I took one bite and I knew I had to make this…
I waved our waitress over and asked for the menu again. Once it’s in my hand, I quickly snapped a photo of the name of the dish together with the description, aka a list of the ingredients that go into this dish.
That photo left me feeling satisfied like I got some top secret information that’s not supposed to be shared. The kale quinoa salad tasted even better at this point.
Now, it’s reverse-engineering time.
You know the easy part of reverse engineering a recipe is the visible ingredients. The hard part, however, is the invisible ingredients that boost the flavor. In this case, the vinaigrette was a challenge.
Luckily, oregano lemon vinaigrette isn’t a secret sauce that nobody knows about. A simple Google search led me to some different recipes. After a few tries and some tweaks, I finally found the combination that’s very close to the taste that I remembered back in the restaurant in JAX.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the homemade version of this kale quinoa salad!
Kale, quinoa, carrots, pine nuts and dried cranberries tossed in a delightful oregano lemon vinaigrette. Now, this dish has officially become my go-to spring salad. You’ll be able to assemble this refreshing vegan salad in less than 30 minutes with very minimal cooking involved. It’s loaded with vitamins, protein, iron and all that good stuff.
I love enjoying it as a quick lunch too. The best part is that you can make the vinaigrette ahead of time and store it in the fridge. It goes well with any type of fresh greens.
If you get a chance to make this salad, please tell me in the comments below if I’ve nailed it. I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy!Print
Kale, quinoa, carrots, pine nuts and dried cranberries tossed in a delightful oregano lemon vinaigrette. This Kale Quinoa Salad is gluten free and vegan.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
- 1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Oregano Lemon Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a small saucepan, add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup quinoa, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and fluffy. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Place rinsed and torn kale leaves in a large mixing bowl. Add some olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage the kale with both of your hands for about 5 minutes. (This step will help reduce the bitter flavor of the kale. Set aside.)
- Now, make the vinaigrette by adding Dijon mustard, lemon juice, oregano leaves, salt, red pepper flakes, maple syrup and garlic in a blender. Blend until smooth, then slowly add extra virgin olive oil, continue blending until well combined.
- Add carrots, pine nuts, dried cranberries and cooled quinoa in the mixing bowl with the kale. Pour the vinaigrette over and toss all ingredients together. Taste, sprinkle with more salt if desired. Dish and season with freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!
- Serving Size: 4