Dear Carrie: Dark green julienned strips of kale are tossed with nutty quinoa and sunflower seeds, colorful bell pepper and red grapes, then dressed with a bright Champagne vinaigrette. Parmigiano and manchego cheese lend a subtle richness; the preserved lemon strips add a nice salty tang. La Grande Orange was happy to share its recipe, which we've adapted below.
La Grande Orange Café's kale and quinoa salad
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4
Note: Adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena. Preserved lemons can be found at select well-stocked grocery stores as well as cooking and gourmet markets.
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil
Ground black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.
Kale and quinoa salad
1/2 cup quinoa
4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch
3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
10 to 12 strips finely julienned preserved lemon
1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.
2. In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.
4. Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.
Each of 4 servings: 375 calories; 9 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 9 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 219 mg sodium.