Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad

Happy May, friends! With the weather (hopefully) starting to warm up and Mother’s Day just around the corner, I have a lovely citrus quinoa salad to share with you. It is light but filling, and complements a multitude of protein choices for any dietary restrictions.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad with Halibut {{Baking Bytes}}

Those of you here in Montana will know the eternal battle between snow and 70s that is springtime. When the warm weather begins, and the snow melts from my yard, my thoughts first turn to citrus and secondly turn to entrée salads. I eat salads all winter long but usually as a side rather than the main course. In order to satiate both cravings without freezing to death when a snowstorm invariably hits, quinoa-based salads are excellent both warm and cold. This one is inspired in part by my lemon poppyseed breakfast quinoa as well as by The Cafe in Ames, Iowa (a rare healthy gem in a sea of deep-fried abominations) as well as my love all of things lemon.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Lemony quinoa and crisp kale are complemented by crunchy zucchini, a sprinkle of dried cranberries, and, of course, goat cheese. Tossed with a lemon tahini dressing, the whole experience is light and springy and excellent both warmed or chilled. Add your protein of choice (I chose baked halibut; grilled chicken or white beans would also be delightful) and you have a filling entrée equally great for company as it is for meal prepping. And if you’re fortunate enough to be with your mom on Mother’s Day, this would be a perfect lunch to share.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Each piece comes together fairly quickly, and could easily be made ahead of time for a quick weeknight dinner. Alternatively, keep each component separate and assemble when you’re ready for lunch for a perfect meal-prep option. Jumpstart your summer (whether the weather agrees or not) with a new go-to for your repertoire and give this tasty salad a try.

Lemon Quinoa & Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Serves 4

Ingredients

salad
1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice

1 large bunch kale, de-veined and chopped into 1” pieces
1 small zucchini, spiralized or julienned
½ – 1 cup goat cheese (or feta)
½ cup dried cranberries

optional
Protein of choice (e.g. halibut, chicken, smoked salmon, white beans, chickpeas)

lemon tahini dressing
½ cup tahini
6 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup Garlic Olive Oil (or regular oil and 2 cloves garlic, minced)
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp dried herbs (I used a mix of basil and rosemary)

Directions

  1. Bring quinoa, lemon juice, and water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all water is absorbed. Let cool briefly before using.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: combine all ingredients in a pint jar and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Thin to desired consistency with additional lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon at a time.
  3. To serve immediately: toss kale and zucchini with half of the dressing until evenly coated. Gently fold in quinoa.
  4. Divide between four dishes and sprinkle each with 2-4 tablespoons of goat cheese and 2 tablespoons dried cranberries.
  5. Optionally, add protein of choice.
  6. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately.
  7. For meal prepping: Portion one serving of each item into separate containers (I keep them all separate so I can heat individual components) and store in the fridge until ready to eat.
  8. To assemble, gently heat dressing until pourable (about 10 seconds) and toss with kale and zucchini.
  9. Heat quinoa (if you want) and fold into kale mixture.
  10. Top with cranberries, goat cheese, (and optional protein), drizzle with additional dressing, and enjoy.