June 29th, 2016
As much as I like my typical spinach salads, I really wanted to change it up. Especially considering how often I eat the same salad. Both versions of it end up with a very “summery” vibe and it seemed like I should try for something a bit different. Especially considering its December.
It was one of those nights where I really wanted a little bit of this and a little bit of that. So I just decided to throw it all together. Since then, I’ve already made this recipe a couple times. And it makes a big batch – it’s just that good. I’m not sure how to even explain what it tastes like – a little sweet, a little tart, a little crunch. It’s like Christmas in your mouth. Or a winter night. Something like that anyway. The important thing is that is tastes amazing. It’s one of those recipes where it looks pretty and people who may not even like something in it will like it anyway. Unless they don’t like pomegranates. But that would just be sad.
Over Thanksgiving my mom had a pomegranate dissected for us all to munch on and it definitely made me fall in love with the taste again. I had never really gotten a whole pomegranate at the store before, but now I think I’ll cry when the season is over. I’m pretty sure I will be making this salad nonstop until then.
1 bunch Kale
1/2 c. quinoa (uncooked)
1 whole pomegranate*
1/2 c. raw shelled green pumpkin seeds**
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
4 tbs. pure maple syrup (or honey)
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
*During the off season, craisins would be a great substitute for pomegranate seeds!
**Pine nuts would be perfect for this recipe, though they tend to be a bit more expensive
This recipe takes a little bit of prep work but, I promise it will be worth it. Luckily everything you have to prep can pretty much be done at the same time.
First, prepare the quinoa by placing it in a saucepan with 1 c. of water. Heat on high until the water reaches a boil and then reduce to low, covered for about 18-20 minutes. Once done, let it sit for about 5 minutes more with the lid on before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place a single layer of raw shelled pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5-10 minutes. Make sure you check on them after 5 minutes as they will toast quickly! I like to make about 2 cups at a time to put in an airtight container. Toasted pumpkin seeds are great to throw on salads or to eat with avocado for a quick snack! Also, if you are using pine nuts instead, then skip this step – they don’t need to be toasted.
To prepare the pomegranate seeds, I found the best way is to let it sit in a bowl of water. First, cut off the end of the pomegranate. Then slice it in half or create 3-5 cuts through the center. After that, I tend to break up the pieces with my hands and place them in the bowl. Once they’ve soaked for a bit, it becomes much easier to separate the rind from the seeds, as the rind pieces should float to the top. Once separated, rinse the seeds.
While the pomegranate is soaking, prepare the kale. For this particular recipe I use the curly variety of kale. You don’t want to eat the ribs so you have to remove them first. Simply fold over the leaves and cut the rib off. Then roll up the leaves so you can cut them into fine strips like so.
This process may seem tedious but it’s actually very easy. Kale is a very hearty leaf and unlike spinach and lettuce, it actually tastes much better after a good “massage”. So dig in (with clean hands of course) and work on massaging the kale to loosen it up a bit, no need to be gentle! This will probably take a few minutes but the result is worth it. This process is actually what helps eliminate the bitter taste kale has been known for.
At this point, all you have to do is rinse your chickpeas and you’re good to go. Personally, I just like to rinse anything that comes out of a can. There’s no need to add extra salt and whatnot to your food!
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, pomegranate seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas with the kale.
In a separate smaller bowl, mix the dressing together. Pour immediately onto the salad and mix thoroughly. If possible, let chill for a few hours before serving. It is not necessary, but this salad (as with most kale salads) tastes even better with time. I love to prepare a batch and have with lunch for the week! Though I definitely see this as the perfect side for a Holiday meal ;)
What do you think? Will you be bringing a hearty side salad to Christmas dinner?
- 1 bunch Kale
- ½ c. quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 whole pomegranate
- ½ c. raw green pumpkin seeds (shelled)
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 4 tbs. pure maple syrup (or honey)
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
- Prepare the quinoa by placing it in a saucepan with 1 c. of water. Heat on high until water reaches a boil and then reduce to low, covered for about 18-20 minutes. Once done, let it sit for about 5 minutes more with the lid on before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
- Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place a single layer of raw shelled pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5-10 minutes, checking on them every 5 minutes.
- Cut off the end of the pomegranate, then slice it in half or create 3-5 cuts through the center. Break up the pieces and place them in the bowl with water. Once they've soaked for a bit, it will become much easier to separate the rind from the seeds. Once separated, rinse the seeds.
- Remove the ribs of the kale first by folding over the leaves and cutting the rib off. Then roll up the leaves so you can cut them into fine strips.
- Massage the kale (with clean hands) for a few minutes to eliminate the bitterness of the kale.
- Rinse the chickpeas and combine with quinoa, pomegranate seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, and kale in a large bowl
- In a separate smaller bowl, mix the dressing together. Pour immediately onto the salad and mix thoroughly. If possible, let chill for a few hours before serving.
Pine nuts would also be perfect for this recipe in place of the pumpkin seeds, though they tend to be a bit more expensive