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Southwestern Kale Salad with Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Avocado Sauce

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I don’t know what it is about this new weather that makes me want to tackle the world. I feel rejuvenated. I walk around the city with a smile on my face, I’m nice to people who knock into me grocery shopping, and I spend an inappropriate amount of money on fresh flowers. Nothing can get me down when I can keep my coat closet closed and my windows open.


Yesterday, after a blissful hour wandering around NYC with no agenda, which usually equates to “Emily spending money”, I found myself at the grocery store ready to conquer a healthy Meatless Monday. After a Sunday that included judging the Brooklyn Bloody Mary festival and tasting 9 courses of Umami burgers, meat and I are taking a break.

All I wanted in my life yesterday was greens and beans. Soo that’s what I did. This recipe was calling my name because of the avocado sauce dressing. I’m not usually a big kale fan (gasp) unless it’s blended in my Vitamix with a bunch of yummy sweet fruits, but I was feeling open minded.

I really loved this salad. The quinoa cut the tartness of the kale, the avocado made everything better, and besides having to clean multiple pots and pans (sorry, Paul!) it was super easy. Also, I made sweet potatoes in a brand new way, which was fun. Lunch leftovers were seriously amazing. The avocado sauce didn’t brown and it tasted as fresh, if not more flavorful, the next day. Enjoy!



Quinoa and kale

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped into very small, bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds), sliced into small, ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons salt

Avocado sauce

  • 2 avocados, sliced into long strips
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium jalapeño, deseeded, membranes removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander, optional
  • Salt, to taste

Additional Salad Toppers

  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked black beans
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta
  • ¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)



To cook the quinoa

  1. First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water for a minute or two.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the quinoa from heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Uncover the pot, drain off any excess water and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  6. Set it aside to cool.

To cook the sweet potatoes

  1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped sweet potatoes and toss to coat, then add the cumin, smoked paprika and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Once the pan is sizzling, add a scant ¼ cup water, then cover the pan and reduce heat to low to avoid burning the contents. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pan, raise the heat back to medium and cook until the excess moisture has evaporated and the sweet potatoes are caramelizing on the edges, about 3 to 7 minutes (add another little splash of olive oil if the potatoes start sticking to the pan). Set aside to cool.

To prepare the kale

  1. Transfer the kale to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped kale with salt and use your hands to “massage” it, which improves the flavor.
  3. Just grab handfuls of kale in your hands and scrunch it up in your palms.
  4. Repeat until the kale is darker green in color and more fragrant.
  5. Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice of 1 lime and ½ teaspoon salt.
  6. Drizzle over the kale and toss to coat.

To make the avocado sauce

  1. Combine the ingredients as listed in a food processor or blender. Blend well and season with salt, to taste.

To toast the pepitas

  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the pepitas, stirring frequently, until they are turning lightly golden on the edges and starting to make little popping noises, about 3 to 5 minutes.

To put everything together

  1. Once the quinoa has cooled down, pour it into the bowl of kale and toss to combine.
  2. Divide the kale and quinoa mixture into four large salad bowls.
  3. Top with sweet potatoes, black beans, a big dollop of avocado sauce, and a sprinkle of feta and pepitas.

Source: Cookie and Kate

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