Oh kale yeaaaaah!
It's no secret that kale is hands down my favorite vegetable. Yes, it's gained much popularity over the years for its touted 'superfood' components, however aside from its nutritional benefits I've honestly always loved its taste and texture! Year round, I typically enjoy sautéing kale with a good quality oil and a dash of sea salt to balance its natural bitterness. Though since lately it's practically an oven outside these days in DC, I was in the mood for something refreshing this time!
This salad was inspired by the colors of summer, as I tossed it with fresh berries I had in the fridge. The simple lemon oil vinaigrette provides a perfect balance between the bitter leaves and sweet berries, while creamy goat dairy adds a pop of flavor and bonus: It's much easier on the stomach than cow's dairy thanks to its smaller fat molecules and lower lactose content.
But what really sets this salad apart from others?
It's protein content! Mixed with quinoa and edamame, this salad gets a big boost of plant based protein, which will help keep you stay full much longer than your traditional mixed greens salad. Here's a little background on the protein rich ingredients:
QUINOA: naturally gluten free and complete source of protein (one of the very few plant sources that contains all 9 essential amino acids), this pseudo-grain is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and B vitamins. 1 Cup = 8g protein, 5g fiber.
EDAMAME: a young soybean, these are naturally gluten free and a rich source of protein, calcium, and iron, while being relatively low in calories. 1 Cup = 17g protein, 8g fiber.
Sweet Summer Kale & Berry Protein Salad
1/2 large head organic curly kale
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 C. cooked quinoa
1 C. shelled organic edamame
1/2 C. sliced almonds
1.5-2C. organic berries of choice (I used blueberries and strawberries!)
1/4 C. goat cheese (optional; per serving)
for the dressing:
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white rice vinegar
1 heaping tsp of tahini
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced
Directions: To prepare the dressing, add all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together briskly for 15-30 seconds or until well mixed. Set the dressing aside. To prep the salad, wash head of kale, and de-stem the leaves into bite sized pieces. Place kale in a large mixing bowl, along with the onion, quinoa, edamame, almonds, and dressing. Note: Add about 1/2-3/4 of dressing first and adjust to taste.
Massage dressing into the salad with your hands (wash 'em first!) until the kale leaves begin to soften; about a minute. Since this recipe makes 3-4 helpings, I recommend adding the fruit and goat cheese on top of your salad at time of serving to prevent the fruit from becoming too soggy. Add fresh ground black pepper and any other fresh herbs of choice to garnish.
Store remainder of salad in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.