Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quinoa Kale Salad with Carrot Coriander Vinaigrette

Portland, like much of the country, is totally abloom with spring. There are pale pink cherry blossoms scattering their little hole-punch petals everywhere, and rosy fat camellias dropping onto the front steps until I literally have to sweep them away with a broom. Everywhere you look, the colors just about knock you out (especially offset, as they seem to be this time of year, by the alternating dark rainclouds and shafts of sunlight). And I find myself wanting a splash of color on the plate as well.

This salad feels just like spring — the winter-long bunch of kale with its new blossoms (though standard non-flowering kale also works quite well), the bouncy bits of quinoa, overly-symbolic egg, and a sweet carrot coriander vinaigrette tying it together like a splash of sunshine.

And beyond its springtime-on-a-plate beauty, this salad is just plain good. The sunny sweetness of the dressing is a perfect match for the slightly bitter greens and grassy quinoa, and the egg and nuts move it into full-on complete-meal status. And, as the spring rains dump on Portland (and knock down more camellia flowers), it's nice to have a little sunshine for lunch.

Quinoa Kale Salad with Carrot Coriander Vinaigrette

adapted from Gluten-Free Girl
serves 4-5

This dressing is a bit of a fuss, with reducing the carrot juice, but it's so crazy good. The post I pulled it from also mentioned serving it on rice, chicken — even quesadillas. Next time I'm making a double batch.

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 cups carrot juice
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup mild vinegar, such as sherry or champaigne
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt & pepper

1 1/2 cups quinoa
a bunch kale (flowering kale, also sold is kale raab, is nice if you can find it), chopped into bite-sized pieces
4-5 eggs
1 large handful toasted pine nuts or almonds

To make the dressing: Heat a medium pot over a medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, and dry-toast, shaking the pot occasionally, until they become fragrant, ~3 minutes. Pour in the carrot juice and the shallot, raise the heat until it boils, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, scraping the sides once or twice so they don't scorch, until the carrot juice reduces to just 1/4 cup, ~15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Pour the mixture into a blender, along with the vinegar and olive oil, and blitz until the shallot is pureed and the mixture is emulsified. Add the cilantro, whir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the rest of the salad: Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, and reduce heat until it's just high enough to maintain a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the kale and recover. Cook together for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. If you prefer, you can also cook the kale separately (which requires a bit more fussing, but does a better job of preserving its bright green color and gives you more control over the cooking process): bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the kale and cook for a minute or two, until it turns bright green and crisp-tender. Drain the pot, and shock the kale in cold water to shock the cooking. Drain and set aside.

While the quinoa is cooking, place the eggs in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, cool off the eggs with cold water, then peel and set aside.

To serve, mound the quinoa and kale in individual bowls or a serving bowl. Break the eggs into rough pieces with your hands, and scatter them over the top, along with the nuts. Dress generously, and dig in.


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