Don’t you wish you just craved salads?
Like, instead of that bag of salt and vinegar chips that keeps calling your name, you were instead hankering for kale? Or rather than eyeing those Chocolate Chip-Espresso Bean Cookies like they were your destiny, you were pining for quinoa and tomatoes?
It would make shorts weather and the whole of summer fashion so much less dreadful, wouldn’t it? Well, I can’t hypnotize your taste buds for you but I can tell you that this Kale, Quinoa, and Feta Chicken Salad is something I really, truly crave. Honest!
I don’t know what the temperature is in your neck of the woods but here on the west coast the first heat wave hit the other day and, while my neighbors were busy pulling the fans out of storage, I was busy dreading one thing: shorts. Tell me I’m not alone on this one, you guys! After months of jeans and scarves and everything else, the last thing I’m ready for are those distressed jean shorts I bought at that end of summer sale last year.
Being a California girl, I try to take advantage of the abundance of fresh ingredients available in the summer months and I make it my mission to eat at least one salad daily. It not only helps with the short dilemma, but it also makes cooking more bearable when the thermometer reads triple digits.
Sure, this salad has all those ingredients—kale and quinoa— that are getting tons of nutritional press these days. But saying that’s the whole reason for this salad would be doing it a disservice. This is one of those salads as a meal type salads – the kind that has a good amount of flavors, textures, and is filling enough to keep me satisfied. You know, it’s not one of those salads that leaves you hungry a few minutes later.
And the best part? If you make the dressing ahead (because it can hang around for up to 4 days, so why not) and use leftover chicken and quinoa, it’s a snap to put together.
So you can concentrate on other things, like just saying no to those chips!
Kale, Quinoa, and Feta Chicken Salad with Creamy Mint Dressing
Makes: 4 servings
Total Time: 15 minutes
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
For the kale:
2 large bunches Lacinato (aka Tuscan) Kale (about 10 ounces)
1 lemon, halved
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the dressing:
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons white white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon granulated salt
Leaves from 3 sprigs of mint (about 15 leaves)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes
For the salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 pint cherry, grape, or sweet 100s tomatoes, halved (about 8 ounces)
4 Persian cucumbers, small dice
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
For the kale:
Fold each kale leaf in half lengthwise then pull out and discard the center rib. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large nonreactive bowl. Add lemon juice and a pinch of salt and, with clean hands, rub and gently squeeze the kale until it just begins to soften and wilt (it will get darker green in color). Set aside 5 to 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad.
For the dressing:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the inside of the carafe as needed. Taste and adjust flavor, adding salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sugar, as needed.
For the salad:
Pour oil and lemon over shredded chicken, season with salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and toss to combine. Add garbanzo beans, quinoa, tomatoes, and cucumber and toss to combine.
Place greens in a serving bowl or divide among serving dishes and top with chicken mixture. Scatter cheese over the top, drizzle with dressing and serve.
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Aida Mollenkamp is California-based food expert and author. She studied at the Cornell Hotel School and Le Cordon Bleu Paris before joining CHOW.com where she worked behind the scenes as Food Editor. Eventually, she moved to television where she hosted her Food Network show Ask Aida and later the Cooking Channel show, FoodCrafters. Her first cookbook, Keys To The Kitchen, is a modern manual to the kitchen filled with over 300 creative, whole foods recipes—it was published October 2012 by Chronicle Books.
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