A delicious and fresh salad that’s chock-full of superfood ingredients like kale, blueberries, quinoa, and pistachios is almost too good to be true. You’d pay top dollar for a gorgeous and healthy dish like this at a restaurant, but you can make it at home for a lot less, plus you’ll get complete satisfaction and energy-boosting nutrition to tackle your week!
Quinoa Kale Salad: A meal on it’s own
This salad has it all: popping flavors, pretty colors, a variety of textures, and important nutrients, including plant-based protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Make this salad as a vegetarian meal or as a side dish to accompany roasted or grilled chicken, seafood, pork, or beef. The flavors in this gorgeous kale salad are enough to stand on their own while also pairing nicely with a variety of proteins.
Ingredients to make Quinoa Kale Salad with Blueberries
Here’s what you need to make this superfood kale salad today:
For the salad:
- Uncooked quinoa – use regular or tri-color quinoa
- Curly kale – you’ll need 2 packed cups of chopped kale
- Fresh blueberries – could sub in another fresh berry or dried cranberries or dried cherries
- Red onion
- Feta cheese – can sub in goat cheese or Parmesan. Omit or use dairy-free feta for a vegan or dairy-free quinoa salad.
- Pistachios – use roasted and shelled pistachios or buy them in the shell (cheaper) and remove the shells yourself (while you snack on a few!); could sub in sliced almonds, walnuts, or cashews
- Fresh basil
Ingredients for the Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette:
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Shallots – or use finely diced red onion
- Dijon mustard
- Honey – or substitute maple syrup
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How to make this quinoa kale salad in 3 steps
Here are the quick steps to follow so you’ll be enjoying this delicious kale salad in no time:
- Make the quinoa: Rinse the dry quinoa (uncooked) in fine mesh strainer under cold water. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup of water and the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let it sit for 5 minutes, covered, then fluff quinoa with a fork. Set the quinoa aside to cool. This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of time; store in fridge.
- Prepare the vinaigrette: While the quinoa cooks, in a small bowl or mason jar with a lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients: the oil, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, honey, and salt. Whisk or shake to combine well. Set aside.
- Massage and toss the salad: Add the chopped kale and a pinch of salt to a large bowl. Massage the kale with hands for 1-2 minutes or until kale leaves are slightly wilted. Then add the cooled quinoa, blueberries, red onion, feta, pistachios, and fresh basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and toss to coat. Add additional salt to taste. Enjoy right away. Store leftovers of grain salad recipes like this one in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the printable recipe card, including ingredient amounts, instructions, prep time, and complete nutrition analysis (calories, protein, carbs, sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, and more) scroll down in this post.
Superstar healthy ingredients in this kale salad
We don’t just throw the word “superfood” around on this site. As registered dietitians, we’re advocates of eating many types of foods that each play an important roll in our overall health. However, this is one salad that truly deserves superstar status when it comes to a gathering of nutrient-dense ingredients. Here are some stand-outs:
Quinoa: this gluten-free grain is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, essential for cardiovascular health
Kale: a fibrous green, kale is high in many important vitamins, including vitamin A (for a strong immunity, as well as eye and bone health), vitamin C (for skin health and cell growth), vitamin K (for proper blood flow), and calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are all minerals essential to blood pressure regulation and reduced risk of heart disease
Blueberries: this high-antioxidant berry has been shown to increase blood antioxidant levels, helping you fight off harmful inflammation caused by free radicals
Pistachios: these tasty green nuts are high healthy fats (they’re made up of 90% unsaturated fats), as well as fiber, protein, and vitamin B6, needed to help carry oxygen to your blood cells
how and when to serve this quinoa kale salad
This salad is incredibly versatile. Here are some ways you can serve it:
- Plant-based Monday – looking for more well-balanced vegetarian meals to add to your week? Look no further than this delicious grain-and-greens salad full of plant-based nutrition!
- As a side dish – serve this beautiful salad alongside roasted chicken, shrimp, scallops, or another meat, poultry, or seafood
- At a BBQ, picnic, or potluck – this flavorful salad is a stunner and will steal the show at any gathering – be sure to bring along printouts of the recipe!
- For meal prep – since this kale quinoa salad has make-ahead components (like the quinoa and the vinaigrette), it lends itself well to meal prep you can get ready on the weekends for a healthy and delicious week ahead of you
- Holiday addition – bring something fresh to the Easter, Thanksgiving, and other holiday table feasts
For the Salad:
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups packed, chopped curly kale, ribs removed
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 4 oz block feta cheese, crumbled (~½ cup)
- ⅓ cup roasted shelled pistachios
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
For the Vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (~1 lemon)
- 2 tablespoon finely diced shallots
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- Make the quinoa (this step can be done up to 2 days ahead of time). Rinse 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold water. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup of water and the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes, covered, then fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- Make the vinaigrette (this step can also be done a day or two in advance). In a small bowl or mason jar with a lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, honey, and salt. Whisk or shake to combine well. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the salad, in a large bowl, place the chopped kale and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the kale for 1-2 minutes or until kale leaves are slightly wilted. Then add the cooled quinoa, blueberries, red onion, feta, pistachios, and basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over top and toss to coat. Add additional salt to taste.
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Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
- Serving Size: 2/3 cup
- Calories: 176
- Fat: 11 g
- (Sat Fat: 3 g)
- Sodium: 404 mg
- Carbohydrate: 15 g
- (Fiber: 3 g
- Sugar: 5 g)
- Protein: 6 g
- Cholesterol: 13 mg
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel of Half Acre House
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