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Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe

This quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale is a nutrient-packed dish that's as delicious as it is healthful. Bursting with earthy flavors, it's a hearty salad that can serve as a main or a side. Sweet potato adds natural sweetness to the mix, while quinoa and kale contribute a host of essential nutrients. Topped with a homemade pesto dressing, it's an irresistible combination of flavors and textures.

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Photos of Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe

While most ingredients are pantry staples, quinoa might need a special mention. Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that's often found in the grains section of your supermarket. It cooks up easily and has a unique, slightly nutty flavor that complements the other ingredients in this salad. You might also need to look for sunflower seeds, which can be found in the nuts and seeds aisle. They add a nice crunch to the salad.

Ingredients for Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale

Sweet potatoes: The star of the dish, sweet potatoes add a natural sweetness and a soft texture. They are rich in vitamins and fibers.

Olive oil: Used for roasting sweet potatoes and making pesto dressing. It adds a smooth, rich flavor to the dish.

Quinoa: A super grain, high in protein and fiber. It is the base of the salad and adds a slightly nutty flavor.

Vegetable broth: Used to cook quinoa, it enhances the flavor of quinoa.

Curly kale: A nutrient-dense leafy green that adds a nice crunch and color to the salad.

Sunflower seeds: They add a nutty flavor and a nice crunch to the salad.

Fresh basil: Used in the pesto dressing and the salad for a burst of freshness.

Basil leaves: An essential ingredient in the pesto dressing.

Parsley leaves: They add a fresh, mildly bitter taste to the dressing.

Lemon juice: Adds a tangy kick to the pesto dressing.

Garlic clove: Used in pesto dressing, it adds a pungent, spicy flavor.

Maple syrup: A natural sweetener used in the dressing to balance out the flavors.

One reader, Brynna Dunn says:

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This quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale recipe is a game-changer! The combination of flavors and textures is simply divine. The sweet potatoes add a delightful sweetness, and the pesto dressing ties everything together perfectly. It's a nutritious and delicious dish that I can't get enough of!

Brynna Dunn

Techniques Required for Making Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale

Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss sweet potatoes: Transfer the sweet potatoes to the prepared baking sheet and toss them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer.

Bake sweet potatoes: Bake for 10 minutes, then toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until tender and browning. Set the pan aside to cool.

Cook quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool.

Make pesto dressing: Combine the basil, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until mostly smooth, but with small pieces of herbs still visible.

Massage kale: Sprinkle the chopped kale with a dash of salt and then use hands to “massage” the kale, grabbing big handfuls at a time, and gently squeezing them in a fist for about 15 seconds until the kale is darker in color and more fragrant.

Assemble salad: Transfer the sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale, sunflower seeds, and sliced basil to the bowl. Drizzle with about ⅓ cup dressing and gently toss until evenly coated. Taste and mix in more dressing, if desired.

Serve salad: Serve the salad at room temperature or cold, and enjoy!

How To Make Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale

This sweet potato and kale quinoa salad topped with a sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds and aromatic pesto dressing is absolutely healthy and hearty.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

For Salad:

  • 2medium sweet potatoes
  • 2tbspolive oil
  • 1tspsalt and pepper
  • 1cupquinoa,rinsed
  • cupsvegetable broth
  • 2cupscurly kale,stemmed and finely chopped
  • ½cupsunflower seeds,roasted, salted
  • cupfresh basil,thinly sliced

For Pesto Dressing:

  • ½cupfresh basil leaves,firmly packed
  • ¼cupfresh parsley leaves,firmly packed
  • ½cupolive oil
  • ¼cuplemon juice,freshly squeezed
  • 1garlic clove,roughly chopped
  • 1tspmaple syrup,or agave nectar
  • ¼tspsalt
  • ¼tsppepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Transfer the sweet potatoes to the prepared baking sheet and toss them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer.

  3. Bake for 10 minutes, then toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until tender and browning. Set the pan aside to cool.

  4. Combine the rinsed quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes.

  5. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool.

Pesto Dressing:

  1. Combine the basil, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until mostly smooth, but with small pieces of herbs still visible.

To Assemble Salad:

  1. Transfer the chopped kale to a large serving bowl.

  2. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and then use hands to “massage” the kale, grabbing big handfuls at a time, and gently squeezing them in a fist for about 15 seconds until the kale is darker in color and more fragrant.

  3. Add the sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale, sunflower seeds, and sliced basil to the bowl.

  4. Drizzle with about ⅓ cup dressing and gently toss until evenly coated. Taste and mix in more dressing, if desired.

  5. Serve the salad at room temperature or cold, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Leftovers will keep well covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 562.62kcal
  • Fat: 39.57g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.27g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 26.43g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.36g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.69g
  • Fiber: 6.24g
  • Sugar: 4.54g
  • Protein: 9.05g
  • Sodium: 654.88mg
  • Calcium: 82.52mg
  • Potassium: 609.79mg
  • Iron: 3.48mg
  • Vitamin A: 534.13µg
  • Vitamin C: 23.54mg

Technique Tip for Perfectly Cooking Quinoa

When massaging the kale, ensure your hands are clean and dry. This process helps to break down the tough cell structure and gives the kale a softer texture and a more palatable taste. It also helps to reduce the bitterness of the kale. The more you massage the kale, the softer it will become. So, if you prefer a slightly crunchy texture, don't overdo it.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Quinoa Salad

Prep ahead: Chop and roast the sweet potatoes and cook the quinoa in advance to save time when assembling the salad.

Double batch: Make a larger quantity of the salad and store the leftovers in the fridge for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

Streamline prep: Use a food processor to quickly prepare the pesto dressing, saving time and effort.

One-pot cooking: Cook the quinoa in the same pot as the sweet potatoes to minimize clean-up and save time.

Substitute Ingredients For Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe

  • quinoa - Substitute with bulgur: Bulgur has a similar nutty flavor and chewy texture to quinoa, making it a suitable substitute in this salad.

  • sweet potatoes - Substitute with butternut squash: Butternut squash has a similar sweet and nutty flavor to sweet potatoes and can be roasted or steamed as a substitute in the salad.

  • vegetable broth - Substitute with chicken broth: Chicken broth can add a savory depth of flavor to the salad, similar to vegetable broth.

  • curly kale - Substitute with Swiss chard: Swiss chard has a similar earthy flavor and hearty texture to kale, making it a good substitute in the salad.

  • sunflower seeds - Substitute with pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds have a similar nutty flavor and crunchy texture, providing a suitable alternative in the salad.

  • fresh basil - Substitute with cilantro: Cilantro can add a fresh and herbaceous flavor to the salad, similar to basil.

  • fresh parsley - Substitute with mint: Mint can provide a refreshing and aromatic flavor, similar to parsley, in the pesto dressing.

  • lemon juice - Substitute with apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can provide the tangy acidity needed in the pesto dressing, similar to lemon juice.

Presenting a Colorful and Nutritious Quinoa Salad

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Use a large, white, or neutral-colored plate to allow the vibrant colors of the salad to pop. Arrange the sweet potatoes and quinoa in an artful manner, and sprinkle the sunflower seeds and basil over the top for a touch of elegance.

  2. Incorporate texture: Introduce textural contrast to the dish by layering the sweet potatoes and quinoa to create height. This will add visual interest and depth to the presentation. Additionally, consider using a mix of whole and chopped kale leaves to add a dynamic element to the plate.

  3. Garnish with fresh herbs: Incorporate a final touch of freshness by garnishing the dish with a few whole basil leaves or parsley sprigs. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds a hint of aroma to the overall presentation.

  4. Emphasize the dressing: Drizzle the pesto dressing in a deliberate and artistic manner, ensuring it enhances the overall aesthetic of the dish. Consider using a small squeeze bottle to create controlled, decorative lines or patterns on the plate.

  5. Consider the negative space: Utilize the concept of negative space to frame the dish and draw attention to its key elements. Leave some areas of the plate bare to allow the vibrant colors and textures of the salad to stand out.

  6. Attention to detail: Pay close attention to the cleanliness of the plate and ensure that each component of the salad is meticulously placed. Wipe any smudges or spills from the edges of the plate to maintain a polished presentation.

  7. Balance and symmetry: Strive for a balanced and symmetrical arrangement of the ingredients on the plate. This will create a sense of harmony and precision in the presentation, appealing to the discerning eye of culinary professionals.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Quinoa Salad

  • Oven: Used for baking and roasting the sweet potatoes.
  • Baking sheet: Used to provide a flat, heatproof surface for baking the sweet potatoes.
  • Parchment paper: Used to line the baking sheet to prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.
  • Saucepan: Used for cooking the quinoa and broth.
  • Blender or food processor: Used to blend the ingredients for the pesto dressing.
  • Large serving bowl: Used for assembling and serving the salad.
  • Fork: Used for fluffing the cooked quinoa.
  • Knife: Used for chopping and slicing ingredients such as sweet potatoes, kale, and basil.
  • Cutting board: Used as a surface for chopping and preparing ingredients.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Used for accurately measuring ingredients such as olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Storing and Freezing Quinoa Salad for Later

  • This quinoa salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, making it a great option for meal prep or leftovers.
  • If you plan to store the salad for later, it's best to keep the dressing separate and add it just before serving to prevent the kale and other ingredients from becoming soggy.
  • To keep the sweet potatoes crispy, store them separately from the rest of the salad and reheat them in the oven or microwave before adding them to the salad.
  • If you want to freeze the salad, it's best to freeze the components separately:
    • Cook and cool the quinoa, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
    • Roast the sweet potatoes, let them cool completely, and then freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer-safe container or bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
    • The pesto dressing can be frozen in an ice cube tray for easy portioning, then transferred to a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
    • When ready to serve, thaw the components in the refrigerator overnight, reheat the sweet potatoes if desired, and mix everything together with the fresh kale, sunflower seeds, and basil.
  • Note that the texture of the kale may change after freezing and thawing, so it's best to use fresh kale when assembling the salad after freezing the other components.

How To Reheat Leftover Quinoa Salad

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the leftover quinoa salad to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and reheat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the salad is heated through. This method helps to maintain the texture of the sweet potatoes and keeps the kale from wilting too much.

  • For a quicker option, you can reheat the quinoa salad in the microwave. Transfer the desired portion to a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the salad is heated to your liking. Be careful not to overheat, as this may cause the sweet potatoes to become mushy and the kale to wilt excessively.

  • If you prefer a fresher taste, consider reheating only the quinoa and sweet potatoes using either the oven or microwave method mentioned above. Once heated, transfer them to a bowl and add fresh kale, sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of the pesto dressing. This way, you can enjoy the warm components of the salad while still having the crisp, fresh texture of the kale and sunflower seeds.

  • For a cold option, simply remove the leftover quinoa salad from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving. This will help to take the chill off the salad and make it more enjoyable to eat. If the salad seems a bit dry, you can add a small amount of olive oil or lemon juice to help refresh the flavors.

Random Fact About Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale

The quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale recipe is a nutritious and delicious dish that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans. Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, while kale is a powerhouse of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. This salad is not only flavorful but also provides a range of health benefits, making it a great addition to a balanced diet. Enjoy this wholesome meal as a satisfying lunch or a light dinner option.

Is Making Quinoa Salad at Home Cost-Effective?

The cost-effectiveness of this quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale recipe is quite high. Quinoa and kale are affordable, nutrient-dense ingredients, and the addition of sweet potatoes provides a budget-friendly source of vitamins and fiber. The recipe's versatility allows for ingredient substitutions based on availability, making it adaptable to varying budgets. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $15, resulting in a high rating of 9 for cost-effectiveness.

Is This Quinoa Salad Healthy or Unhealthy?

This quinoa salad with sweet potato and kale recipe is a nutritious and well-balanced meal. Here's why:

  • Quinoa is a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids, and is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium, promoting healthy vision, immune function, and blood pressure regulation.
  • Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green, packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants and fiber, supporting overall health and digestion.
  • The pesto dressing incorporates heart-healthy olive oil, fresh herbs, and lemon juice, providing beneficial monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and vitamin C.
  • Sunflower seeds add a crunchy texture and supply vitamin E, magnesium, and healthy fats.

To further enhance the nutritional value of this already healthy recipe, consider the following suggestions:

  • Incorporate additional colorful vegetables, such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or shredded carrots, to increase the variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Replace half of the quinoa with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles to lower the overall carbohydrate content and add more low-calorie, nutrient-dense options.
  • Experiment with different types of kale, such as lacinato or red kale, to introduce varying flavors and textures while maintaining the nutritional benefits.
  • Boost the protein content by adding cooked chickpeas, lentils, or grilled tofu to the salad, ensuring a more satisfying and balanced meal.
  • Sprinkle some fresh herbs, like cilantro or mint, to elevate the flavors and provide additional antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Editor's Opinion on This Delightful Quinoa Salad Recipe

The combination of sweet potatoes, quinoa, and kale in this salad creates a delightful blend of flavors and textures. The pesto dressing adds a burst of freshness, while the sunflower seeds provide a satisfying crunch. The recipe's use of wholesome ingredients and the simple yet effective cooking techniques make it a nutritious and delicious option for a light meal or side dish. The balance of savory and sweet, along with the vibrant colors, makes this salad a visually appealing and appetizing choice for any occasion.

Enhance Your Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Green Beans: Tender green beans roasted to perfection with a hint of garlic and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and savory carrots glazed with honey and a touch of cinnamon for the perfect side dish.
Grilled Pineapple Slices: Juicy pineapple slices grilled to caramelized perfection, adding a tropical twist to your meal.

Similar Healthy Salad Recipes to Try

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl: This hearty bowl is filled with roasted vegetables, quinoa, and a flavorful tahini dressing. It's a satisfying and nutritious meal that's perfect for lunch or dinner.
Mango Avocado Salsa: This refreshing salsa is a perfect combination of sweet and savory, with ripe mango, creamy avocado, and a zesty lime dressing. It's great as a topping for grilled chicken or fish, or as a dip with tortilla chips.
Butternut Squash Soup: Warm up with a comforting bowl of butternut squash soup, made with roasted butternut squash, onions, and a hint of nutmeg. It's a cozy and delicious soup that's perfect for chilly days.

Appetizers and Desserts to Serve with Quinoa Salad

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and crispy for a delicious start to any meal.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Whip up a creamy and cheesy spinach and artichoke dip for a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Serve with crispy tortilla chips or toasted bread for a satisfying and comforting snack.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Berry Parfait: Layered with fresh berries, creamy yogurt, and crunchy granola, this berry parfait is a delightful combination of sweet and tangy flavors. It's a light and refreshing dessert that's perfect for any occasion.

Why trust this Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful combination of wholesome ingredients, ensuring a flavorful and nutritious meal. The sweet potatoes and kale provide essential vitamins and minerals, while the quinoa offers a good source of protein. The homemade pesto dressing adds a burst of fresh flavors, enhancing the overall dish. With the use of fresh ingredients and a well-balanced blend of flavors, this recipe guarantees a satisfying and wholesome dining experience.

Want to share your experience with this Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe or discuss variations and tips? Join the conversation in the Recipe Sharing forum section!
FAQ:
What can I use as a substitute for quinoa in this recipe?
You can substitute quinoa with couscous, bulgur, or even brown rice for a similar texture and flavor.
Can I make the pesto dressing ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the pesto dressing ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I add other vegetables to the salad?
Absolutely! Feel free to add roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or even some diced cucumber to add more color and flavor to the salad.
How can I make this recipe gluten-free?
To make this recipe gluten-free, ensure that the vegetable broth and all other ingredients used are certified gluten-free. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, so you're good to go with that.
Can I use a different type of nut in the pesto dressing?
Yes, you can use different nuts like pine nuts, almonds, or even cashews in the pesto dressing to customize the flavor to your preference.

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