This kale and quinoa salad is a tasty, nutritious, and colorful recipe excellent as a healthy make-ahead lunch or dinner and for meal prepping as it keeps well for several days.
Take ours as a guideline and customize it to your liking. Here we provide you with plenty of ideas and substitutions to make your best kale and quinoa salad recipe.
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Check out our Best Salad Recipes
Kale and quinoa salad is an excellent meal-prep recipe that you can make in advance and keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
It’ll feed your family for days as you can eat it as a healthy lunch and quick dinner throughout the week.
The salad is colorful and has different textures, meaning it’s a super healthy meal packed with polyphenols and plenty of vitamins.
It’s also rich in high-quality plant protein, thanks to the quinoa and the many veggies.
Take our recipe as a guideline, and feel free to swap veggies around based on seasonality and on what you have available where you live.
To make the salad healthy and nutritious, try to go for seasonal and ideally local vegetables, mixing in as many colors as possible.
For the dressing, we use our loved and tested honey mustard dressing (you can sub maple syrup for honey if vegan), which makes this kale and quinoa salad irresistible.
Kale, Lemon, and Salt
We use dinosaur or Tuscan kale, but you can use any kale type, including red kale, cavolo nero, and curly kale.
Since we eat the kale raw in this salad, we recommend discarding the woodier stems, chopping the leaves into small pieces, and massaging them for one minute in freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt.
Massaging kale makes a massive difference in texture and flavor, making the kale softer, more pleasant to eat, and tastier, so don’t skimp on this step; it only takes a minute or two.
Feel free to use whatever quinoa you have at hand. We use white quinoa, but red, black, or tri-color quinoa also works.
Substitute whole grain rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, barley, farro, or any other whole grain for the quinoa.
Red bell pepper
Diced red bell pepper adds sweetness and crunch.
Substitute halved cherry tomatoes, radishes, or red cabbage for red pepper.
Canned corn kernels are a favorite ingredient in our kale and quinoa salad as they add a pleasant sweet flavor.
Substitute diced yellow bell peppers or small apple pieces for corn.
Scallions or green/spring onions add a mild tangy flavor.
Substitute shallots or red onion for scallions
Chopped-up toasted almonds taste incredible with kale, and we think they are delicious in this salad. Also, almonds and nuts are incredibly healthy, which is good news since they taste fantastic too.
Substitute mixed seeds, chopped walnuts, or pecans for almonds.
Feta or Vegan Feta
Feta cheese is optional. It adds a nice salty, tangy flavor to the salad and makes it pop. You don’t need much, just a little helps to make kids and picky husbands love this recipe.
Our goal here is to make you eat more veggies through delicious recipes. If this takes a bit of cheese, that’s great for us.
For vegans, you can easily keep the feta out, or replace it with vegan feta cheese, although these are often ultra-processed foods that might not be as healthy as you think.
Honey Mustard Dressing
This is a simple yet beautifully flavorful dressing you can make in 1 minute by mixing honey (use maple syrup for vegan), mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
It’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour, tangy, salty, and creamy, and it’ll take your kale quinoa salad to the next level.
SOMETHING ROASTED: for instance, try roasted pumpkin, roasted butternut squash, roasted cauliflower florets, roasted sweet potatoes, or roasted kabocha squash. In general, orange-colored vegetables are delicious with kale.
TOFU: to make this an even more fulfilling and nutritious meal, you can add tofu in several ways. We adore pan-fried tofu coated with tasty and crisp seasoning. Alternatively, you can add chewy air-fried tofu or marinated tofu.
LEGUMES: lentils, white beans, and chickpeas are an excellent addition to this kale quinoa salad.
Step 1: Massage the kale
Simmer 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water on medium heat until the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, separate the kale leaves from the stems by holding the stem firmly with one hand and pulling the leave away with the other.
Discard the stems, or use them for stocks and soups.
Rinse the leaves, shake the water away, then chop them into small pieces.
Add the chopped kale to a large mixing bowl, add the juice of half a lemon and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then pinch (massage) the kale with your fingertips to soften its texture. Do so for about 1 minute, then set aside and make the dressing.
Note: the salt and the lemon will soften the kale fiber and make it more palatable.
Step 2: Make the dressing
Add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey or maple syrup, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to a small jar.
Close the jar and shake it well until combined. Alternatively, you can make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Step 3: Mix the salad
Add diced red pepper, corn, finely chopped scallions, and chopped almonds to the bowl with the kale.
At this stage; you can also add your favorite add-ins. See the ingredients chapter and variation chapter for inspiration.
Add the quinoa, pour in the dressing, and mix well before serving.
Kale and quinoa salad with crumbled feta
Crumbled feta cheese adds a creamy, tangy, and salty flavor to this dish, making it irresistible.
You can substitute vegan feta cheese for regular feta.
Kale and quinoa salad with winter squash
Chop your favorite winter squash into bite-size dice, toss it in olive oil and salt, and roast it in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Toss it in the salad with the other ingredients, and you are in for a treat!
Kale and quinoa salad with fried tofu
Pan-fried tofu is an excellent way to add tasty and high-quality plant-based protein to your salads.
You can make it in just about 15 minutes with simple ingredients. Check out our fried tofu recipe if you are interested.
We like to serve it with one of our easy homemade vegetable soups, such as:
- Potato leek soup: creamy, bright, and light with a perfect balance of potato and leek.
- Cauliflower soup: velvety smooth, and wholesome, with fresh Italian herbs and a subtle cauliflower flavor.
- Carrot soup: with slightly caramelized roasted carrots and grated ginger.
- Butternut squash soup: a healthy soup for autumn and winter and a great appetizer idea!
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: kale and quinoa salad is the perfect recipe to prepare ahead of time; it is excellent for meal prep as it keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I’d argue that the salad gets better on the second day as the kale softens up in the refrigerator and the quinoa absorbs the flavor from the dressing and the veggies.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. If the salad gets a little dry on the third day, that’s normal. You can make another half batch of dressing to drizzle in with.
Freezer: this is not a freezer-friendly recipe.
Reheat: there’s no need to reheat this salad. However, we recommend taking it out of the refrigerator half an hour before eating it (if you have the time), as it will taste better at room temperature.
More Kale Recipes
If you like cooking with kale, get fresh inspiration from these easy and wholesome kale recipes:
- Kale pesto pasta with 5-minute kale pesto and bowtie pasta.
- Easy kale salad with vibrant fresh greens, roasted pumpkin, and a creamy lemon dressing.
- Creamy kale pasta with a ricotta lemon blend, an easy weeknight pasta ready in 20 minutes.
- Sauteed kale: a great way to use up leftover kale, ready in just 10 minutes!
- Savory pancakes with kale mushroom filling: a protein-rich and whole dinner idea.
More Salad Ideas
If you like eating salad as a meal, get easy and tasty salad ideas here:
- Italian rice salad with roasted and fresh veggies and a creamy lemon dressing.
- Chickpea salad: a reader favorite with fresh greens and a velvety smooth mustard dressing.
- Quinoa chickpea salad: easy lunch in 20 minutes and an excellent idea for potluck meals.
- Lentil sweet potato salad: with roasted sweet potatoes, canned lentils, and cumin dressing.
- Pasta salad with chickpeas: a meal-prep-friendly meal ready in just 20 minutes!
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
Kale and Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa cook it with 2 cups water
- 5 ounces kale any, about 5 cups chopped, massage it with juice from ½ lemon and ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup red bell pepper
- ½ cup corn
- ½ cup spring onions
- ⅓ cup toasted almonds
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
MASSAGE THE KALE
- Cook quinoa in boiling water until all water is absorbed (about 12 minutes).In the meantime, pull the kale leaves off their stems.Discard the stems or use them in stocks and soups.
- Rinse and shake the water off the kale leaves, then chop them into small pieces.
- Add leaves to a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt and pinch the kale with your fingertips to soften its texture. Do so for 1 minute, then set aside and prep the dressing.
MAKE THE DRESSING
- To a small jar, add all ingredients, close, and shake well.Alternatively, you can whisk ingredients in a small bowl.
MIX THE SALAD
- Add diced red pepper, corn, finely chopped scallions, and chopped toasted almonds to the bowl with the kale.At this stage; you can also add your favorite add-ins.
- Add quinoa, pour in the dressing, and mix well before serving.
- ADD FETA: crumbled feta (or vegan feta) adds a creamy, tangy, and salty flavor, making it irresistible.
- ADD ROASTED VEGGIES: kale is delicious with roasted orange-colored vegetables. Try roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, kabocha squash, or sweet potatoes.Cut them into bite-size dice, toss them in olive oil and salt, and roast them in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
- ADD TOFU: pan-fried tofu is an excellent way to add tasty and high-quality plant-based protein to this kale and quinoa salad. You can make it in 15 minutes with simple ingredients. Recipe is linked in the ingredients list.
If you liked this kale quinoa salad, you might also enjoy the following: