Have you ever had one of those weeks (months, years) when everything that could go wrong does go wrong, to the point where it goes beyond tragic and right into comical?
That’s been my life lately, and at this point I don’t know whether to break down into sobs or laugh maniacally at the whole state of affairs. I have such good intentions and put forth as much effort as I can possibly muster into everything I do, but alas… the universe seems to have fun messing with me. I am not amused.
But like I said, there’s only so much pity-partying one can do; only so many tears of frustration one can cry, so much budgeting and cost-cutting and how-the-hell-do-I-keep-a-roof-over-my-head-this-month that one can do every morning at 2am before you finally throw your hands up and just let it all go with a nervous chuckle. I’m still worried, of course, but I have other things to do, you know? (Like writing that little book thingie we’ve been talking about for the past couple weeks…)
And that’s where eating well comes into play. Obviously, doing so is good for my body, but I am not kidding when I say that it’s also works wonders for the soul. There’s a reason why terms like “comfort food” exist, why we tend to celebrate special occasions and events with food: it’s not just a source of fuel and nutrition; it’s a source of pleasure, of delight, of real joy. So when I can take comfort in the simple pleasures of a beautiful, delicious meal, I am deeply grateful for that bright spot in my day. Little things like that can make a big difference when you’re going through a rough patch.
Today’s recipe does all of that, and still finds a way to add a super nutritious punch. Since it’s been a little warmer than usual around here (odd, considering the typhoon-like weather we had last week), I’ve set aside my more comfort food-esque recipes and plunged headfirst into a big pile of kale. The offerings at the farmers market have been quite lovely as of late, and I scored three beautifully huge bunches at yesterday’s market for just $3. With prices like those it was hard to resist buying more, but somehow I managed to exercise some restraint.
Naturally, the first thing I did was make a batch of my other raw kale salad, a.k.a. The Most Addicting Salad of All Time. With all the crap that’s been going on lately, I have been trying my best to make sure I don’t get sick from all the stress, so fresh greens, fresh fruits, and other uber-healthy ingredients are being consumed like crazy in my tiny home. That raw kale & chickpea salad is on regular rotation for that reason alone. Well, that and it’s so friggin’ good I can’t stop eating it.
But as much as I love that salad, you know me… I tend to get bored and my mind starts wandering, different ingredient combo ideas running through my head at about a mile a minute. I remembered the gorgeous strawberries I’d picked up when I was at the Thursday market last week (I’ll explain what all this farmers marketing is all about in a different post), and thought a simple salad with the contrasting colors, textures and flavors of the kale & strawberries would be fantastic.
I wanted this to be a meal, so I added a little bit of quinoa for protein, as well as some chopped almonds, and some crumbled goat cheese as a finishing touch (goat cheese courtesy of Grocery Outlet’s ridiculously awesome cheese prices. Shhh! Don’t tell Trader Joe’s cheese section that I’m cheating on it!). Don’t worry if you’re not a cheese fan, or if you’re unable to find relatively affordable goat cheese at your markets; this is perfectly delicious on its own.
Now, when I normally use quinoa in salads, it’s pretty much the star of the show. This time around, however, I wanted the kale & strawberries to shine, so the amount of quinoa used is much less than usual. It’s more of an accent, like croutons or sunflower seeds, not necessarily a main ingredient. Of course, if you’re a huge fan of the mother grain or if you just want to add more protein, feel free to double the amount of quinoa mentioned in the recipe.
Otherwise, this is a great alternative to more grain-centric quinoa salads and a wonderfully refreshing one at that, with the addition of a fresh minneola vinaigrette. Similar to the dressing I use in my other kale salad, this one’s much lighter and less in-your-face, but still tangy, sweet and delicious. The citrus also helps to wilt the kale a bit, making it a little easier to chew on (I know some of you aren’t as into the crazy kale texture as I am!).
Will this salad cure all my woes? Probably not. But it sure is lovely and damn delicious. And because there’s absolutely nothing bad for me in it, I know it will give me the strength I need to keep on going through these crazy times. Oh, I do love salads that can multitask! Let’s check out the recipe…
Kale Quinoa & Fresh Strawberry Salad with Minneola Vinaigrette (makes 3-4 servings; total cost per serving: $1.50)
If you can’t find minneolas at your store, don’t fret! You can use other tangelos, mandarins, or just a good ol’ orange. The dressing will still be delicious.
For the salad
2 c fresh kale, torn into 2″ strips
1/2 c cooked quinoa
1 c sliced strawberries
1/2 c chopped almonds (optional)
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese (optional)
For the minneola vinaigrette
1/2 c freshly squeezed minneola juice
1 t lemon juice
1/4 c canola oil (or grapeseed or other lightly flavored oil)
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t honey
Generous pinch of salt & pepper
1. Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all dressing ingredients and whisking together until smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the kale, quinoa, strawberries & almonds, and toss together gently. Slowly pour the dressing over the salad and gently fold everything together. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
2. Place generous portions of salad into bowls or plates. Top with come goat cheese crumbles and a bit of extra ground black pepper, and enjoy!