As I was writing this post I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I posted a kale salad recipe on the blog. Turns out it’s been a while: the last was my tahini mint kale salad, which I shared last March! In other words, I’m overdue, and this maple mustard kale, quinoa & toasted pecan salad is a nice way to get back into the kale salad game.
This is a great kale salad for February. It’s packed with quinoa, golden beets, green beans, and toasted pecans, which together make for a lot of heartiness and nutrition and contrast in texture. What brings the salad together—underscoring the sweetness of the beets along the way—is the maple mustard vinaigrette, which is straight out of Power Plates (I shared the recipe with the harvest bowls, too).
The dressing began as a vinaigrette, and then one of my recipe testers tried it with tahini in place of oil and raved about it. I tried it that way, and I liked the two versions so much (in different ways) that I gave both options in the book. I think the vinaigrette version works better for massaging kale, and in this recipe overall, but you can definitely use the tahini version if you choose to avoid oils.
No matter what, the dressing lends a sweet, salty, and slightly savory (thanks to nutritional yeast!) flavor to the salad.
The salad also benefits from nutty, crunchy toasted pecans. I’ve been working with the American Pecan Council this year to explore and showcase all of the culinary versatility and health benefits of pecans, which are the only major tree nut indigenous to America. Pecans are packed with nutrients, which you can read more about here.
My favorite among pecan’s nutritional highlights are their beneficial, monounsaturated fats and protein, which can aid in satiety after meals. They’re also a good source of fiber and contain plant flavonoids, which are a type of phytonutrient. The food lover in me loves their slightly sweet flavor, which works nicely in all sorts of dishes.
This salad qualifies as a power plate, thanks to protein-packed and complex-carb-rich quinoa, plenty of good fats from the pecans, and lots of veggies. It’s nice for a light lunch, but it’s an even more filling and nutritious meal if you pair it with a cup of soup, a slice of hummus toast, or some baked tofu or tempeh. It’ll give you four generous servings, or—if you’d like to serve it as an appetizer—6 smaller ones.
I can definitely imagine making this salad for a potluck lunch with friends sometime before winter’s end here in the city. For now, I’m enjoying the leftovers all on my own. Like all kale salads, this one keeps pretty nicely: a full two days in the fridge after you make it. Quick weekday lunches for the win.
I’ll be swinging back around this weekend with the usual link love; for now, wishing you a good week ahead.
This post was sponsored by the American Pecan Council. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!