Massaged Kale Salad with Quinoa, Cranberries and Feta with a lightly sweet and zesty dressing, the flavors come together perfectly. Gluten-Free too.
This massaged kale salad is inspired by a dish I recently shared with two of my closest friends, on a mini friend reunion out in San Francisco, California.
We drove down to half moon bay one afternoon and got comfortable sitting by the fire pits, overlooking the gorgeous coastline at the Moss Beach Distillery. With beers on hand we sat there for hours soaking up the warmth from both the fire and the sun shining overhead.
Eventually we decided to order lunch. And this is where I first came face to face with this delicious massaged kalesalad with cranberries and feta. I love quinoa salads but have always made them very quinoa heavy, as in the salad is more grains than greens.
This salad though is the exact opposite. It is mostly kale with the quinoa grains lightly hugging the bright green leaves. You can spot the quinoa and even taste it, but ever so slightly. It doesn’t overpower the dish. The kale is the star here.
The dried cranberries, feta were easy to distinguish but the nuts were a bit mysterious. The three of us couldn’t quite figure out what they were. They didn’t taste like walnuts, cashews, pistachios or pecans. Hazelnuts? Also no.
Macadamias, that’s the nut here. Macadamias are seriously under-rated and I never see them used in recipes. The only recipe I can think of off the top of my head with macadamias are white chocolate macadamia cookies.
These nuts need to be used more frequently in savory dishes. They’re delicious. Hearty, and dense and even lightly smoky when toasted. Hmmm just the perfect crunch in the salad.
After snapping a photo of the salad listed on the menu I knew I would have to re-create this myself. Not too difficult to throw together either.
Though I did need to learn about “massaging kale” first. Sounds strange right? When my friend asked if I massage my kale before making salads I simply shrugged, making a mental note to investigate this further.
Well as it turns out if you add a bit of salt or oil to the kale and gently knead it in your hands after 2-3 minutes you will actually see the kale turning a more vibrant green color. What’s happening under the surface is you are breaking down the kale, in turn making it easier to digest, therefore better for you and makes the kale pop more while having a softer texture.
Overall this massaged kale salad with quinoa, cranberries and feta is one of my new favorite meals. With the dried cranberries, toasted macadamias and crumbled feta this salad is full of flavor that just pop in your mouth. The lemony mustard oil dressing is ever so slightly sweet and blends all the ingredients together.
If you make this massaged kale salad please let me know what you think in the comments below! I know you’re going to love it, as much as I do!
To make this salad vegan feel free to use a vegan cheese instead of feta.
- 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
- 5 ounces kale thick stem removed,
- 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/8-1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon agave or honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake macadamia nuts on a baking tray until lightly browned, making sure the nuts don't burn. Chop the macadamia nuts when they cool.
In a large bowl pour a dash of olive oil over the kale and lightly massage the kale for 2-3 minutes with your hands, removing the thick stem as you go. You will notice the color become more vibrant.
To the kale add cooked quinoa and mix until thoroughly distributed.
Add cranberries, feta and macadamia nuts.
In a small bowl combine the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and agave. Whisk until smooth.
Top salad with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.