Kale and Quinoa Salad

This Smitten Kitchen recipe is an incredibly healthy vegetarian starter or main course, and you could, of course, omit the cheese (or replace with a vegan equivalent) and use agave syrup instead of honey, to make the dish vegan. It is supposed to have ricotta salata in it, but I tend to use goat’s Gouda, parmesan or feta (ideally barrel-aged feta), as they are easier to get hold of.

Recently, though, I went down to Borough Market with a friend and bought some ricotta salata. It was delicious, with a distinctive taste and texture, so definitely worth looking out for if you’re making this.


The salad keeps fine overnight, so any leftovers come in handy for your lunch box the next day.

For 2 with left-overs (or 4 as a starter)

120g quinoa
200g cavolo nero or other kale (not too coarse)
80g flaked almonds
60g dried cherries (or raisins)
2 or 3 spring onions
2 tsp chopped fresh dill (optional, in my view)
50g goat’s cheese or ricotta salata, crumbled, grated or shaved
zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp grain mustard
scant tsp honey
Salt & Black pepper

Rinse the quinoa and and place in a saucepan with 360g water and a pinch of salt. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has released its distinctive little tails.

I tend to turn the heat off and leave the pan with the lid on for a few minutes to dry a little, then drain it in a sieve to get rid of any remaining liquid and leave it to cool, fluffing it up with a fork.

While the quinoa is cooking prepare the other ingredients. Crumble, grate or shave the cheese (if using), and toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring them about and watching carefully lest they catch. Roughly chop the dried cherries and finely slice the spring onions. Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients.

Wash the kale and dry it carefully. Cut or tear the rib out of each stalk, then stack the leaves in small batches, roll them up tightly the long way and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons.

Put into a large salad bowl, with the quinoa and the rest of the salad ingredients, keeping back a handful of cheese and almonds. Toss everything together with the dressing, then scatter over the cheese and almonds and serve.


Originally posted February 2015, revised and photographs added May 2019


4 thoughts on “Kale and Quinoa Salad

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