Kale and crispy quinoa salad with apricots

Crispy quinoa salad with kale and apricots was a success. #vegan #vscocam

People are often impressed (or pretend to be impressed) when they see our garden. They think it’s because we are serious about hyper-local organic vegetables but the real reason I keep a garden is because I’m often too lazy to go to the supermarket and like the convenience of foraging for veggies in the backyard when I need to cook dinner.

Our apricot tree is just starting to bloom.  In the usual race to pick ripe apricots before the birds and squirrels get to them, I wanted a way to use not quite perfect apricots as well as a way to use the bountiful kale that’s in the garden.  I had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge I also wanted to use up.

As with all my dishes, I free-styled this one, so there’s not so much a precise recipe — more like a suggestion of how to throw things together.

Ingredients:

  • lacinato kale
  • 4-5 ripe but not too soft apricots
  • 1.5 cup cooked quinoa
  • almonds
  • a few sprigs holy basil
  • 1 shallot
  • orange marmelade
  • sherry vinegar
  • olive oil
  • aleppo pepper
  • ground cumin
  • ground ginger
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

De-stem the kale, wash, and thoroughly dry. I use a salad spinner for this, but swinging it around in some kitchen towels also works.  Chop the kale roughly so the pieces are smaller than a dime. Put the kale in a large salad bowl and throw in a pinch of salt and a couple glugs of olive oil.  Now use your hands and massage the kale, making sure to distribute the oil and salt.  Don’t be afraid to squeeze the kale. After a minute of massage, set it aside. The kale will tenderize while you prepare the other ingredients.

Put a tablespoon of oil on a skillet and spread about half the amount of cooked quinoa out on the bottom of the skillet.  Sprinkle on some aleppo pepper. The quinoa should be in one layer.  The heat on the pan should be high enough that there’s a slight sizzling sound.  Keep an eye on the quinoa and toss and re-spread every couple of minutes to prevent burning.  In the meantime, in another pan, toast the almonds, tossing every few minutes to prevent burning.

Remove the pits from the apricot and chop roughly to the size of M&M’s.  Put the apricots in the bowl with the kale.

Now for the dressing. Get out a glass jar with lid to mix the salad dressing in.  Mince the shallots and put in the jar. Top with a few tablespoons of oil and 1/3 as much vinegar.  Throw in a pinch of salt and a pepper.  Put in half a teaspoon of orange marmalade, or more if you like your salad sweeter.  Put in a small pinch of cumin and a small pinch of ground ginger. Cap the jar and give it a good couple of shakes to mix everything up.

Finely chop the holy basil.

When the quinoa is toasted (took me 10 mins) the almonds should be done too. Chop up the almonds and add them to the kale.  Add the rest of the (untoasted) quinoa to the kale, and then add everything else (toasted quinoa, holy basil, toasted almonds) to the bowl. Top with the salad dressing and mix, mix, mix.  Taste the salad and add more salt if needed.  Serve and eat immediately.

I thought I had made enough to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, which would also give me a chance to see how well this salad kept, but we ended up eating everything for dinner, so I have no idea if the quinoa would stay crispy or not, sorry.