Treat yourself to this Superfood Salad with Citrus Dressing tonight ... it's packed with healthy ingredients and tons of flavor!
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Are you a salad person?
I never used to be, but I am quickly turning into one, especially as summer (and swimsuit season) approach. On a hot day—which we have way too many of here in Texas—I love a tasty, creative salad for a light lunch or dinner.
This Superfood Salad has been satisfying all my cravings lately, and I know that you're going to love it, too!
It's packed with healthy ingredients (just look at all those fruits and veggies), and it's actually pretty hearty. I hate a salad that leaves me hungry an hour later, you know? Most important of all though, it's sooo delicious!
About the Recipe
I don't know about you, but I try to eat as much "healthy food" as possible ... but it has to taste good, too.
This yummy salad is bursting with fresh fruits and veggies, protein-packed quinoa and chickpeas, and crunchy seeds. All of the ingredients are whole foods that are packed with lots of good-for-you nutrients, plus they taste amazing.
You are going to love this quinoa and kale Superfood Salad's sweet-savory flavor, great texture, and awesome Citrus Dressing. It makes a super satisfying lunch or dinner that's vegan, and it's perfect for meal prep, too.
Okay, have I convinced you to try it yet? Then, keep reading for all the mouthwatering details!
Have you heard of superfoods before? They're generally considered to be foods that have unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins, or other nutrients.
In other words, foods that are really good for you, like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other mostly unprocessed, whole foods. While these foods are not magic cure-alls, eating more of them regularly may help you stay healthier. (Read more about what makes a food super.)
Here's what you'll need for this salad:
- Quinoa - a great source of protein (more than any other grain), fiber, iron, and potassium.
- Sweet Potatoes - a good source of vitamin A, which is helpful for protecting your vision and immune system.
- Shiitake Mushrooms - contains nutrients that have cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer benefits.
- Kale - full of nutrients that can reduce inflammation, improve your skin's health, and more.
- Chickpeas - full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Blueberries - has nutrients that may improve your memory by boosting your brain function.
- Strawberries - contain lots of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Avocado - full of potassium and healthy fat.
- Pumpkin Seeds - have omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Hemp Hearts - contains all nine amino acids, as well as other nutrients.
- Citrus - this recipe uses an orange and lemon, both of which have lots of vitamin C and other healthy nutrients.
- Fresh Ginger - known for reducing nausea, improving digestion, and more.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - helps reduce cholesterol (versus eating saturated fats), maintain blood sugar levels, and more.
- Spices - this recipe uses Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Turmeric (all of which have anti-inflammatory effects, among other benefits), as well as Cayenne, which may boost metabolism.
Customizing the Recipe
I realize this salad has a lot of ingredients, but stay with me here! It's really simple to make, so don't let that ingredient list put you off. If you don't have everything on hand, you can feel free to leave some things out and simplify the recipe, or you can swap in your favorite fruits and veggies.
For example, you could do all blueberries and no strawberries, skip the chickpeas or shiitake mushrooms, etc. It's up to you ... the recipe is really flexible!
How to Make a Superfood Salad
Now that you know what goes in it, let's talk about how to make this Super Food Salad. Since this salad has quite a few ingredients, you'll want to work in a certain order to stay organized:
- Cook the quinoa.
- Once the quinoa is started, roast the sweet potato and mushrooms.
- While the quinoa is cooking and the veggies are roasting, prep the kale.
- Prepare the Citrus Dressing.
- Mix together the kale, quinoa, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and the dressing.
- Add the blueberries and strawberries.
- Garnish with avocado, pumpkin seeds, and hemp hearts.
Cooking the Quinoa + Roasting the Veggies
You'll start by cooking the quinoa. If you've never made quinoa before, check out my helpful How to Cook Quinoa post. The article is full of tips, and it has tons of other quinoa recipes to try, too.
Now that you've started the quinoa, work on the roasted veggies. Chop the sweet potato into ¾-inch chunks, then toss them with the olive oil and spices ... you can do this right on the tray. I like to use hands to mix everything together so I can make sure the sweet potato is well coated with the oil and spices. Just make sure to wash you hands after, because the turmeric will stain them!
After 15 minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan and mix well. Continue roasting the veggies until they're tender, about 15 to 20 minutes more.
Preparing the Kale
While the quinoa and veggies are cooking, you can work on the kale.
Remove the stems from the kale, slice it, and place it on your biggest bowl. Then, drizzle the kale with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
Okay, this is the fun part ... stick your hands in the bowl and start massaging the oil and salt into the kale. As you do this, the kale will soften up and turn a darker green color. It should take about 2 minutes.
If this massaging process seems a little foreign, read my Massaged Kale Salad recipe. It has tons of tips (and recipes) for making kale salad, and even a quick video that shows the process.
Making the Dressing
The yummy Citrus Vinaigrette may just be my favorite part of this salad recipe. It is sooo delicious ... I think I could drink it. Ha!
There are a few ingredients that make this dressing so tasty. First, it uses fresh orange and lemon juice, plus zest. Make sure to zest the citrus before juicing it. A microplane is my go-to tool for zesting fruit. Tip: hold the microplane upside down over the orange/lemon while zesting, and it will "catch" the zest.
The salad dressing also has fresh ginger, which provides a bright pop of flavor (use the microplane to grate that, too). Toasted sesame oil adds a nice nutty note, and soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman) seasons the dressing and contributes a deep flavor. Finally, a touch of maple syrup adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
Not only is this dressing tasty, but it's also super easy to make! Simply whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste the dressing, then season to taste with salt (or additional soy sauce) and pepper, if desired.
Assembling the Salad
Now that your components are ready, let's assemble the salad.
Add the quinoa and roasted veggies to the massaged kale, along with a can of chickpeas (drain and rinse them with water first.) Drizzle the dressing over the top.
Mix everything together well. I like to use a pair of wood spoons for this.
Tip: the quinoa and roasted veggies can be added to the salad warm, OR you can let them cool off first. Either way works and is delicious.
The salad is delicious without anything else added, but I included fresh berries for more of those healthy antioxidants. They also add a wonderful sweet counterpoint to the savory flavors in the salad.
Gently mix in the blueberries and strawberries so you don't bruise the fruit.
Again, wood spoons are great for this. Make sure to mix from the bottom of the bowl to distribute all the ingredients evenly.
Garnishing the Salad
The last step to making this healthy salad is garnishing it!
I'm trying to eat more vegan food, so I skipped the cheese here (feta or goat cheese would be tasty though). To add a little creaminess to the salad, I added sliced avocado instead.
Tip: if you're making this salad for meal prep, keep in mind that strawberries and avocado don't hold up well. You can either skip them OR add them just before serving.
How gorgeous is that colorful salad? I want to dive right into that picture!
This lovely Superfood Salad is the perfect balance of healthy ingredients and fresh, delicious flavors. And I'm pretty sure you're going to love it just as much as I do.
Give it a try today, and let me know what you think!
If you enjoyed this kale and quinoa Superfood Salad, then try one of my other healthy + hearty salads next:
- Farro Kale Salad with Feta
- Grilled Halloumi Salad
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Greek Quinoa Salad
- Massaged Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- Watermelon Basil Quinoa Salad
- Lemony Chickpea Salad
Superfood Salad with Citrus Dressing
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 large sweet potato, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 9 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
- 1 large bunch kale, sliced (about 8 cups)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 avocado, sliced
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 teaspoons hemp hearts
- kosher salt
For Citrus Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine quinoa, 1 cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small pot.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Cover pot and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- While quinoa is cooking, place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper.
- Bake sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Add mushrooms to pan; stir well. Continue baking until veggies are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt.
- Massage oil and salt into kale for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients (olive oil through cayenne). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add quinoa, sweet potatoes and mushrooms, chickpeas, and citrus dressing to kale. Mix well.
- Gently stir in blueberries and strawberries.
- Serve salad topped with sliced avocado and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts. Enjoy!
What are your favorite superfoods?