Festive Kale Quinoa Salad

Festive Kale Quinoa Salad

If you're a last minute, "I just want to have fun", type of host/dinner guest then this recipe is.for.you.

You can quickly put it together in about 15 minutes. But it looks & tastes like you put a lot of effort in. Yes, please!


I used to make a version of this salad for my lunch everyday a few years ago. When Smiley Pete asked me to participate in their annual potluck recipe feature I knew this would be a hit! And most importantly, pretty for the photos and easy to make on a busy weekend.

This recipe was originally featured in their magazines and website in early November.

I've made some revisions below along with some preparation tips! I also included the original link at the end if you care to check that out.





• 2 bunches of kale, finely chopped (makes about 5 cups of chopped kale)

• 3 apples

• ¼ cup dried cranberries

• 1 cup cooked quinoa (red quinoa makes for a more festive looking salad, if available)

• ¼ cup pecans


• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• ½ tablespoon maple syrup



• Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir.

[If you'd like to be #EllaExtra 😉 put the dressing ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake it up then pour over the salad!]

• Finely chop the kale and transfer to a bowl. I bunched up the kale and sliced through with a pizza cutter! So easy and quick!

• Pour the dressing over the kale and “massage” to make the leaves more tender and easier to chew.

• Dice the apples and toss them in with the kale.

[See apple tip below]

• Toast the pecans: Turn the burner on low, add the juice of half a lemon, pecans and a sprinkle of turmeric, cayenne and black pepper. Stir until lemon juice is gone.

• Top kale mixture with the pecans, cooked quinoa and cranberries.

[See quinoa tip below]


Sliced Apples Hack!

I had to slice the apples, transport them, and keep them looking fresh for the photoshoot. I googled and tried out a few different ways of keeping the apples from turning yellow. I figured I should share in case you need to do the same for a dinner party or just like fresh apples!
The best method I found was to soak the apple slices in salt water for 10 minutes. The results I found said 1/2 tsp of salt per cup of cold water for 10 minutes. You simply submerge the slices, cover them for 10 minutes, then rinse off the (very mild) salty water. Because this was my first time and mainly for photos I did a full teaspoon of salt per cup of water and left the apples in the mixture in the fridge until it was time to leave (about an hour). I dumped most of the liquid before leaving but did not rinse them.

I did eat this salad after the photos and while the apples had a mild salty taste, I personally think it added to the salad. I also ate the leftover apple slices as a snack and still loved the salt and sweet mixture. I rinsed a few off just to see how it would go and they lost the salty taste. I kind of missed it. Haha


I got tired of placing the ingredients beautifully and started playing some free throw with the apples into my salad. This is an entertaining salad too! Haha


Quick Quinoa!

Did you know you can cook quinoa in the microwave?!?!
Full disclosure: I haven't had a microwave for about 6 years and I've always had quinoa cooked in a rice cooker. When I went to make this recipe, I borrowed a friends rice cooker but then decided that would take too long. I looked up how to cook quinoa quickly and boom! Microwave. My new apartment has a microwave I barely use so this was perfecto! I was a tiny bit skeptical... but it turned out great and I've done it twice more since.
Whenever cooking quinoa you should use about double the liquid compared to your quinoa. So for one cup of quinoa you would use 2 cups of liquid (water, broth, milk, etc)
I cooked it for 5 minutes, stirred it, cooked for another minute, and then let it sit for 10 minutes.
Important! Make sure you cook this in a microwave safe bowl or container with a lid. I used pyrex.
Let it sit uncovered without the lid and then check it to make sure all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. If not, just microwave a little longer.


The original recipe posted on Smiley Pete's site is linked here


All photos taken at The Amsden in Versailles, KY

21c Cincinnati

Holiday Wreath Making with Springhouse Gardens

Holiday Wreath Making with Springhouse Gardens