Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa
April 20, 2012

Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa | The Full Helping

For the most part, I’m not one for fruit in salad. But if I’m going to have fruit in a salad, summer–with its rich offerings of fresh, seasonal, super juice fresh fruit–is the time to do it. This grape, avocado, and baby kale salad with quinoa is a perfect combination of bitter baby greens, sweet grapes and blueberries, crispy beets and cucumbers, and creamy avocado. If salads with fresh fruit were to always taste like this, I’d probably be a full time convert.

Yesterday, we talked about making veganism accessible with easy, elegant, and healthful recipes. My reader Fiona pointed out that veganism isn’t always quite so easy as I like to make it seem; it can be lonely, and the early weeks, months, or even years can present challenges in the form of cravings for old favorites.

I’m glad she raised the point, because it’s important: veganism isn’t always easy. I think it’s easier than the media sometimes suggests, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of (vegan) cake: if it were, I suppose a lot more people would be vegan already. That said, the challenges of veganism (as I edited my post to say) are rivaled–and hopefully surpassed–by the joys and pleasures of its food.

If you’re finding it hard to be vegan, please don’t feel as though you’re doing something wrong, or as if you’re the only one: most new vegans find the transition to be a little bumpy. But don’t feel that you need to give up, either: instead, focus on simple, healthy, and flavorful food that can be put together without too much fuss. If you’d like, you can start with this salad, which is as vibrant and satisfying as it is nutrient-dense.

Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa | The Full Helping

Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 large or 4 small servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 4 heaping cups baby kale (or chopped curly kale, or you can substitute baby spinach or mesclun)
  • 1/2 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raw beets, grated or finely diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 large Hass avocado, cubed
  • 3-4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve under running water for about a minute. Transfer the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water to a 2 quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes. Fluff the quinoa gently with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to steam for 5-10 minutes. This step can be done a few hours in advance, or you can cook the quinoa a day or two in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to make the salad.
  • When the quinoa is ready, add it, along with all other ingredients, to a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa | The Full Helping

This salad is a standard variation on any number of my nutrient dense salads, which tend to use the formula of:

Healthy fatcomplex carb + protein source

As their starting point. I’m not dogmatic about this, and I’m open to nuance; beans, for instance, fit both the protein and the complex carb bill nicely, as does quinoa. But I’m generally mindful of getting all of my macronutrient groups in, if I can. Frequent nutrient-dense stars in my salads include beans and/or lentils, avocado, sweet potato, tempeh or tofu, raw crackers, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, raw nut cheeses, and whole grains. I often add protein-rich dressings, such as my liquid gold dressing or my red pepper hemp sauce, for nutrient bonus points. After that, the bulk of my salads is raw vegetables and fruits, with an emphasis on variety and color.

This salad falls squarely within all of these lines. Quinoa provides protein and complex carbs, while avocado provides healthy fat. The beets, cucumber, and kale provide a varied array of color and micronutrients (and you could certainly expand on this to include more veggies) while the grapes and blueberries add lovely, bright flavor. Finally, white balsamic vinegar (a mellow relation of regular balsamic) brings it all together flavorfully while also eliminating the need for a great deal of extra oil; the avocado in here takes care of creaminess well on its own. To make it even more filling, you can add some tofu or white beans for a little extra protein power!

It’s a beautiful, elegant dish that comes together very quickly if the quinoa is prepped in advance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and enjoy your weekends, too.

xo

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    22 Comments
  1. I love this recipe yumm yummm yumm. However, the quinoa is cooked so how is this “raw vegan” ?

    • Thanks for that tip. I hadn’t heard of Wildflower but i just checked out the link. Hope to make it to the pop up on May 4 or 5.

  2. I agree that cooking vegan at home is actually quite easy but the isolation can come when you start to eat out with friends and family who don’t understand. This salad looks fabulous, Gena, and I can’t wait to try it.

    (your recipe is missing the number for the balsamic vinegar, btw!)

  3. Love the look of this salad! I’m loving fruits in my salads at the mo- current faves are blueberries and strawberries.

    I just read your previous post and comments re. being vegan. I’m still transitioning because it’s hard. I find it easy to be vegan at home or when I’m out and about and starving; especially as I love vegan food. My biggest problem is when I’m eating with family, I just haven’t gotten up the courage to say I’m vegan again (probably because I feel guilty about all my diet changes in the past and ED times); especially as the inlaws don’t get what’s wrong with eating fish and eggs too. I’m going to have to work on it somehow.

    Hope studying goes well this weekend, lovely Gena. xoxox

  4. I’ve been on a quinoa/veggie/protein bowl lunch kick for quite a while, and have yet to become bored. The combinations are endless, especially if you change up the quinoa – the red and black varieties become canvasses for completely different flavor profiles. I favor cooking my quinoa/grains in a low sodium broth to amp up the flavor.

  5. I love the attention you put both into visual presentation and into nutritional balancing!

    So excited for some beets coming in my CSA box next week…
    love
    Ela

  6. Your equation for a healthy, vegan meal sounds pretty ideal to me. Good luck with your studying and your exam! I’m at the tail end of my semester and can’t wait for a break! Too bad I have summer school this year, but somehow even a change of topic feels refreshing. 🙂

  7. Like any dietary changes, becoming will take some adjustments. I think to those of us who have it down, it can seem easy at least as far as what to make etc. I often feel like that I have no issues with it, it’s others that do.

    I like your salad combo idea. I almost never put the grains on my salad for some weird reason but I should.

  8. hi gena – thanks for another amazing looking dish! your meals always have me craving hearty salads with avocado, but i find that i have a lot of trouble buying avocados at my local market… i think that im letting them ripen correctly, but when i cut into them they often don’t taste right or seem to be bad inside. do you have any tips on how to choose an avocado? it’s so disappointing to spend $2 on one and then have to throw it away!

  9. This post rocks! I honestly waiver between veganism and ploy – I realize they are worlds apart to you!!! – but to those of us eager to have a “real foods”, organic diet, both have separate appeals… Posts like these reply help!