This Kale Salad with Quinoa and Chickpeas recipe is both healthy and delicious. It’s vitamin and protein packed with kale, roasted brussels sprouts, cinnamon toasted chickpeas, dried cranberries and toasted pecans and finished off with a simple vinaigrette dressing.
The best thing about this salad, is you can customize it any way you like. In addition to the kale base, I added roasted brussels sprouts, cinnamon spiced toasted chickpeas, dried cranberries for a little sweetness and some crunchy pecans. The chickpeas are protein packed, so this kale salad is quite filling. You can make it even heartier by adding chicken breast or salmon or forego the beans altogether in exchange for an alternate protein.
I love kale salads because you can dress it and store it in containers and the leaves don’t wilt. Perfect for weekly meal prep!
Can you eat raw kale in salad?
Raw kale can be tough for some people to eat, literally. It’s a superfood, and super healthy, but is also pretty hearty and fibrous, making it tough to chew. The best way to soften kale for salads it to massage it with olive oil or with a dressing.
Now, hear me out. This sounds a little weird but I promise you it is the most important step in this recipe. Just toss the raw kale with the vinaigrette or with a little olive oil and gently massage the leaves with your hands. This will help to break down the fibers in the leaves making them softer and easier to chew.
Just be sure to wash your hands first!
How to Make the Best Kale Salad
My kale salad recipe has a few other hearty ingredients in it, and a healthy vegetarian protein. All of the other ingredients are toasted or roasted, which adds so much flavor to what would otherwise be a boring dish.
Roast the brussels sprouts in the oven for about 20 minutes, adding the pecan to the sheet pan for the last 5 minutes.
On the stovetop toast chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little cinnamon. If you aren’t a fan of chickpeas you can omit them or use an alternate protein like chicken breast or fish.
Assemble the salad, starting with softened and dressed kale in the bottom of large salad bowls. Top with cooked quinoa, brussels sprouts, pecans and cranberries.
Make and add additional dressing if desired. You could also just use your favorite vinaigrette instead of making your own.
Make ahead and Storage
Make ahead: Make this salad several days in advance for meal prep. Cool the roasted ingredients completely before mixing with the salad, then store in individual containers for up to 3-4 days.
Storage: Store leftover kale salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Kale Salad Variations
For creaminess and tang, add some blue cheese or goat cheese to your kale salad.
If you don’t have any dried cranberries, or just aren’t a fan, swap out for some dried cherries, dates or figs.
Replace the quinoa for a different grain, like farro or couscous.
If pecans aren’t your thing, try walnuts or sunflower seeds.
14ouncecanned chickpeas(aka garbanzo Beans), drained and rinsed
1 bunch kalecenter ribs removed, chopped
salt and pepperto taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, toss pecan halves with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Cut brussels sprouts in half and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Add pecans to the sheet for the last 5 minutes.
While veggies are roasting, toast the chickpeas. Drain and rinse chickpeas, then pat dry with a paper towel. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chickpeas and cook 4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and seat aside to cool.
In a small container with a tight fitting lid, vigorously shake ¼ cup olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar together until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Add chopped kale to a large bowl and pour the dressing over it. With clean hands, massage the kale for 1-2 minutes to soften.
Assemble the salad. Divide the kale into 4 bowls and top with quinoa, chickpeas, brussels sprouts, pecans and cranberries. Serve immediately.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.