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This kale and quinoa salad has a lemony-mustard dressing, dried cranberries that plump with the cooked quinoa, crisp celery, toasted almonds, and goat cheese. It comes together in a snap and has been a welcomed addition to the summer salad rotation. It also keeps well in the fridge for days, making it perfect for lunch-on-the-go or a picnic at the beach. I find it irresistible, and while it's a great side salad, it's nearly a meal in itself. //

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Plumped Cranberries, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Dressing

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5 from 11 reviews

  • Yield: 4


From Cookie and Kate’s Love Real Food

I’ve used other greens in place of the kale — Swiss chard, arugula, lettuce, anything from my CSA. With this more delicate greens, I don’t massage them.


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch curly kale (8 oz), tough ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • fine sea salt, see notes
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (2 oz)


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 11 to 14 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the dried cranberries, and cover the pot. Let the quinoa and cranberries steam with the lid on for 10 minutes, then plump with a fork and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and pepper, and whisk until blended.
  3. Place the chopped kale in a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant, and reduced in volume by about one-third. Add the celery to the bowl.
  4. In a small skillet, combine the almonds and olive oil and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the almonds are fragrant and golden on the edges, 5 to 8 minutes. Watch closely! Pour almonds into the salad bowl.
  5. While the quinoa mixture is warm, add it to the salad bowl. Drizzle in most of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste. Add the remainder of the dressing if needed. Wait until the salad cools to room temperature before adding the goat cheese. Serve immediately or keep chilled for up to 4 days.