healthy kale and quinoa salad with ginger-curry vinaigrette

healthy kale and quinoa salad with ginger-curry vinaigrette |

Yes, I know.

Kale is so last year.

Clearly, I’m a bit late to the party but honestly, this is the first kale salad I’ve ever made!

And lately, I’ve been into curly kale.

Curly kale has lived in the shadow of its sleek-looking sister (cavolo nero) for years. And I get it- I’ve never been a fan of curly kale myself. It reminds me of those typical garnishes at chain restaurants or giant cabbages people plant in their front yard as part of their autumnal landscaping. And because of that, I’ve never been inclined to eat it.

But there it was at the market: a beautiful bunch of curly leaves freshly sprayed with water.

(I’m such a sucker).

This recipe is a riff on my Curried Quinoa & Asparagus Salad.

My secret?

Marinate the kale in lemony, ginger-curry vinaigrette; the acidity tenderizes the leaves. Don’t be afraid to give it the full spa treatment too. Get in there with your hands and gently massage the leaves. Sounds so silly, but it really softens up the kale. I could use something like this, actually.

The rest of assembly is easy: quickly shred tart green apple, carrots, and purple cabbage in the food processor. It takes 2 minutes. Then, toss with crunchy things like pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Believe it or not, my pomegranate seeds were unearthed from the freezer. So vibrant and pretty… When unavailable, simply leave them out.

Add leftover cooked quinoa for a hit of protein and chewy raisins.

healthy kale and quinoa salad with ginger-curry vinaigrette |

This salad is perfect for lunch or to enjoy after a good work out (chasing small children, or otherwise). It can be made in advance too.

What kind of kale do you like?

Kitchen Notes:

  • This salad can be prepared and chilled, up to 3 hours. The ginger-curry vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. Add avocado right before serving to preserve freshness.
  • PS- there’s 1 Hass avocado in this recipe (not pictured) for essential creaminess. 
  • Try this vinaigrette drizzled over grilled fish, such as tuna, halibut or salmon- it’s delicious.
  • If you don’t like kale, or curly kale for that matter, substitute with baby spinach or mixed greens instead. Skip the marinating part in the instructions below.

healthy kale + quinoa salad with ginger-curry vinaigrette
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2-4
  • 4 handfuls of curly kale
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 green apple, unpeeled
  • 1 small wedge of purple cabbage
Ginger Curry Vinaigrette
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaped tsp. madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup leftover cooked quinoa
  • 1 hass avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  1. To make the vinaigrette, add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Blitz to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour your dressing into a bowl or container for easy storage. Unplug the machine and fit with the shredder attachment (no need to clean it out).
  2. Add the kale leaves to a salad bowl. Pour some of the dressing on top. Get in there with your hands and gently massage the leaves; the acidity from the dressing will tenderize the kale. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to marinate.
  3. Meanwhile, shred the carrots, apple, and cabbage in the food processor. Add to the kale.
  4. Add the leftover cooked quinoa and avocado. Mix gently to combine.
  5. When ready to serve, sprinkle with pepitas, raisins and pomegranate seeds. Toss with extra dressing, if desired.



    • Emilie says

      Hello Heather! You know, I’m a fan on ‘funky’ salads (as I like to call them) too- They are much more interesting where there are lots of ingredients and textures, and of course colors. Can’t forget about that! I do hope you like it :)

  1. says

    This salad is speaking to me right now!! I’ve been trying to be more creative with my salads lately, because I feel like I make the same thing every day (read: kale salad with crunchy chickpeas and kimchi). And while that’s delicious, variety is the spice of life, right? ;) This salad looks like the perfect thing to mix it up.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Sarah! Well, I certainly would love to try your kale salad! The additional of kimchi sounds wonderfully intriguing, and you don’t have to twist my arm with crunchy chickpeas ;) I think a salad swap is in order…

  2. says

    I am late to the kale trend too, Emilie! I knew about the massaging part (going forward, I’ll always think of it as a spa treatment!), but I love your idea to marinate it in an acidic dressing, too. And with all those wonderfully crunchy elements and sweetness from the pomegranate and raisins, this is one amazing salad. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Emilie says

      Oh good- you and me both. It’s funny, because when kale first bursted onto the scene, I just sat there and watched. There were so many delicious ideas floating around-salads, gratins, veggie-style burgers- and I made nothing. Inspiration has a schedule of it’s own (I’m learning) and this salad was a fun experiment. Marinating the leaves really does help. Oh and speaking of leaves, the curly ones are nice because their natural shape begs to scoop up all of the ingredients ;) Thanks for stopping by, Julia! x

    • Emilie says

      Hello Katrina! Thank you so much- Initially, I was a little hesitant as there are (out of season) pomegranate seeds, but what a pleasant surprise to find buried in the freezer? It was meant to be. It’s a lovely recipe to beat the summer heat, too. x

  3. says

    Well, it’s better late than never :) I love kale and this salad recipe of yours is truly inspiring. The colour is absolutely wonderful. And that vinaigrette-veggie combo is really interesting.

    • Emilie says

      I like how you think, Jennifer ;) The ginger-curry vinaigrette is absolutely delicious. Even if you don’t make this particular recipe, drizzle some of that liquid gold onto anything and it will immediately transform your dish! xx

    • Emilie says

      You’re awesome- love it. Now, you’ve got me thinking about my spirit vegetable… Is carrot too obvious? Do give kale and curry a try, I think you’ll like it! xx

  4. says

    I’m a kale lover, Emilie and am always in search of new ways to enjoy it. Massaged is quite possibly my favorite way… and it is a bit of a spa treatment, hehe, because it is quite relaxing bonding with the kale in that manner. You’ve got texture, tang, crunch and pops of sweetness throughout! And that madras curry powder is a genius addition to the dressing! Mmmmm, this is good Emilie! xx

    • Emilie says

      Hi Traci! Even curly kale, too? I’ve always been a cavolo nero fan, but I’m glad I decided to branch out and try another (new-to-me) variety- it’s delicious! I have a feeling you’ll like the vinaigrette as well. xx

  5. Jennifer says

    It’s true, you don’t hear much about Kale anymore. I love it particularly in soups, but this salad looks like a winner! I”ll give it a try

    • Emilie says

      Yes, soup! I love that kale is so hearty and doesn’t wither away when folded into a hot vegetable or creamy butternut squash soup. It freezes so well too. PS- I can’t believe we’re talking about soup, it’s 8 million degrees here in NY! For the love of food? ;)

  6. says

    Hi Emilie! I’m with you…I wouldn’t have been able to walk away from the kale at the market either. Sometimes you just have to go with your “gut”! I’m such a fan of this type of salad. Soft marinated kale with the crunchy veggies and tang of the dressing! Mmmm…my mouth is watering!

  7. says

    I just love finely chopped salad with all of the add-ins. And summer is THE best for that. So much flavor and great textures. Including the less famous curly kale ;) SO good once massaged and marinated – I agree! This dressing sounds stellar and I love how you found those pom seeds. Getting me excited for fall but I still am wishing summer lasts forever! :) Hugs to you <3

  8. says

    Hahhaa you’re not as late as me… I still haven’t tried kale!!!! But hearing from you, I definitely will have to try kale in this gorgeous salad! I love how colorful it is! :D

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