Packed with fluffy quinoa, hearty kale, plenty of roasted veggies, and crispy chickpeas, our Warm Quinoa and Kale Salad is something you’re going to want at your disposable all year long. This super healthy, filling meal can be made ahead of time, served warm, room temperature, or cold, making it perfect for meal prep.
Warm Quinoa and Kale Salad with Roasted Veggies
If eating nutritious, hearty, veggie-packed meals is on your radar in this new year, I must insist you add our Warm Quinoa and Kale Salad to your repertoire. While I do technically classify this as a salad, it could also veer towards the category of Buddha bowl or grain bowl due to its focus on grains versus the lettuce leaves themselves.
Here’s what we’ve got going on:
- fluffy quinoa
- hearty kale that’s been every so lightly wilted by the warm quinoa
- a zippy lemon vinaigrette that gets even more flavorful once it hits the warm ingredients
- crunchy roasted chickpeas, sweet caramelized fennel, and soft, but crisp sweet potatoes all harmonizing together as an impeccable trio
- sliced almonds for the little hint of extra texture I crave in a salad
Warm Quinoa and Kale salad is perfect for busy weeknights or workdays as everything can be prepped ahead of time and assembled at the last minute if you want it warm, or the night before if you want to bring it to work for lunch.
We also love that it’s totally customizable. Use up that dressing you’ve been stowing away in the fridge. Add some dairy (we love shaved parmesan cheese or cubes of mozzarella). Toss on some seared salmon or chicken to bulk it up even more. Endless possibilities.
Ingredients in Quinoa and Kale Salad
Quinoa. I kind of got off the quinoa bandwagon for a while, but now I’m back with vengeance. This fluffy grain is one of my favorite ways to add extra nutrients to simple salads. Remember to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking to get rid of any bitterness the quinoa may be holding on to.
Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are our first choice here, but butternut squash works as well.
Chickpeas. Always be sure to rinse your chickpeas of any liquid from the can. Also, I make sure to dry the chickpeas really well before baking them to ensure they get super crispy. If you have the time, dry the chickpeas off and let them sit for an hour on paper towels.
Kale. We use curly kale, but any sturdy green will work nicely. Don’t forget to massage the kale after chopping! This helps to release some of the bitterness kale innately has. Trust me, it sounds bizarre, but it works.
Almonds. We used slivered almonds, but any favorite nut will work great. I’ve also used walnuts, pine nuts or pecans.
Vinaigrette. We use our favorite five ingredient lemon and dijon vinaigrette we shared a few days ago. It has the perfect combination of sweet, tang and citrus notes to compliment the roasted veggies, quinoa and kale. It’s super easy to throw together, but you can also squeeze a little bit of lemon juice and olive oil on top if you don’t feel like whipping up the entire dressing.
Let’s make Warm Quinoa and Kale Salad
Cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa really well in a colander under cold water. Add it to a saucepan with some chicken broth and a pinch of salt. Cook according to the package directions. If the quinoa finishes before the roasted veggies, simply remove if from the heat and keep it warm in the same pan you cooked it in.
Roast the veggies. While the quinoa cooks, toss the sweet potatoes, fennel, and chickpeas with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes. Pull the pan out and toss so nothing burns. Return to the oven until the fennel is caramelized, the sweet potatoes are soft, and the chickpeas are crisp, about 10-12 minutes longer.
It’s important to cut the sweet potatoes on the smaller side so everything roasts in the same amount of time. If you’re worried about items cooking at varying times, simply separate out the three ingredients and remove them from the pan as they become done to your liking. I like for the ingredients to get slightly crispy and charred, so this isn’t an issue for me.
Make the dressing. While the veggies roast and the quinoa cooks, whip up the vinaigrette.
Toss everything together. Add the warm kale to a big serving bowl, top with kale. Toss the kale with the quinoa so the heat of the quinoa starts to wilt the kale. Add half of the roasted veggies along with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and most of the almonds. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Season to tastes with salt and pepper. If you feel like the warm kale and quinoa salad needs more dressing, add a little bit a time until it’s to your liking.
Cover the quinoa and kale with remaining roasted veggies and sprinkle with almonds.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! Because Quinoa and Kale Salad is great warm, room temperature or cold, it’s something I’d encourage you to make in advance. It’s the perfect lunch or dinner to meal prep ahead of time.
I would recommend skipping the dressing until just before you eat so the quinoa stays fluffy, but it’s not necessary.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Swap out the sweet potato for butternut squash.
- Feel free to use any hearty green. Mustard greens or spinach will also work nicely.
- Double up on the chickpeas for added protein, just be sure to use two sheet pans to roast everything so they don’t steam.
- Make sure all the veggies and chickpeas are spread out evenly on the baking sheet.
- Remember, you can always add more vinaigrette, but you can’t take it away. Add a little bit at a time until you get the perfect amount of dressing to suit your taste.
- I LOVE roasted fennel, so I’ll often use two fennel bulbs instead of one.
Other healthy meal options you’ll love
- We love this vegetarian curry made with chickpeas instead of meat.
- This Greek Chicken Pita is one of my favorite healthy dinners that makes great leftovers the next day.
- With only five ingredients and plenty of flavor, these Chicken Lime Burgers are one of our favorite easy meals.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups cubed sweet potato (1/2-inch dice), about 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cups chopped curly kale
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds (can also use walnuts or pecans)
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup lemon vinaigrette
- baking sheet
- Large bowl
- Sauce pan
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Rinse quinoa well under cold water. Add chicken stock to a medium sauce pan. Add quinona and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and let the quinoa cook until all the water has absorbed. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat, and cover again. Let the quinoa sit covered until you're ready to assemble.
- While the quinoa cooks, roast the vegetables. Pat the chickpeas dry with a paper towel. Add the sweet potatoes on 1/3 of the sheet pan. Place the fennel in the middle third and the sweet potatoe on the remaining third. Drizzle all the veggies and chickpeas evenly with olive oil. Use your hands to make sure everything is coated. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 1/4 teaspon salt and brown sugar. Again, use your hands to make sure all veggies and chickpeas are coated. Spread everyting evenly out on the sheet pan. You don't want anything too close together or they will steam instead of roast. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Pull the sheet pan out and toss the veggies and chickpeas so they don't burn. Place back in the oven and continue to roast until fennel is caramelized, sweet potatoes are soft, and chickpeas are crispy, another 10-15 minutes. If the anything is getting too brown or cooks faster than the other items, remove them from the sheet pan and set aside.
- While the quinoa cooks and the veggies roast, make the vinaigrette and massage the kale. Chop the kale into bite size pieces and then use your hands to massage the kale - this will help release all the bitterness in the kale, set aside.
- When you're ready to assemble, add the warm quinoa to a serving bowl. Add the kale on top, toss until the kale starts to wilt. Add half of the roasted veggies and chickpeas to the quinoa and kale along with the nuts and 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss until coated. If you need more vinaigrette, add more to suit your taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining roasted veggies and chickpeas on top of the salad. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.