Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa

by Gena on April 20, 2012

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Happy Friday! I’d say TGIF and all that, but this will be a weekend of Orgo, Orgo, and more Orgo. So I’ll just say TGMEWBOS (thank God Monday’s exam will be over soon).

Yesterday, we talked about making veganism accessible with easy, elegant, and healthful recipes. My reader Fiona pointed out that veganism isn’t always quite so easy as I like to make it seem; it can be lonely, challenging, and the early weeks, months, or even years can present challenges in the form of cravings for old favorites. I’m glad she raised the point, because it’s important: veganism isn’t always easy. I think it’s easier than the media sometimes suggests, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of (vegan) cake: if it were, I suppose a lot more people would be vegan already! That said, the challenges of veganism (as I edited my post to say) are rivaled–and hopefully surpassed–by the joys and pleasures of its food.

If you’re finding it hard to be vegan, please don’t feel as though you’re doing something wrong, or as if you’re the only one: most new vegans find the transition to be a little bumpy. But don’t feel that you need to give up, either: instead, focus on simple, healthy, and flavorful food that can be put together without too much fuss. If you’d like, you can start with this salad, which is as vibrant and satisfying as it is nutrient-dense.

This salad is a standard variation on any number of my nutrient dense salads, which tend to use the formula of:

Healthy fatcomplex carb + protein source

As their starting point. I’m not dogmatic about this, and I’m open to nuance; beans, for instance, fit both the protein and the complex carb bill nicely, as does quinoa. But I’m generally mindful of getting all of my macronutrient groups in, if I can. Frequent nutrient-dense stars in my salads include beans and/or lentils, avocado, sweet potato, tempeh or tofu, raw crackers, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, raw nut cheeses, and whole grains. I often add protein-rich dressings, such as my liquid gold dressing or my red pepper hemp sauce, for nutrient bonus points. After that, the bulk of my salads is raw vegetables and fruits, with an emphasis on variety and color.

This salad falls squarely within all of these lines. Quinoa provides protein and complex carbs, while avocado provides healthy fat. The beets, cucumber, and kale provide a varied array of color and micronutrients (and you could certainly expand on this to include more veggies) while the grapes add lovely, bright flavor. I rarely eat grapes on their own, but I do adore them in salads, and this one is no exception! Finally, white balsamic vinegar (a mellow relation of regular balsamic) brings it all together flavorfully while also eliminating the need for a great deal of extra oil; the half avocado in here takes care of creaminess well on its own.

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I served the salad, as you can see, with some raw almond and veggie bread and my sweet pea hummus. Using leftovers wisely helps to make veganism affordable and easy! If you’re not going to include a side dish, you may want to consider adding some tofu or white beans for a little extra protein punch.

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Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa (vegan, high raw, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 2-4 as either appetizer (4) or meal (2)

6 cups baby kale (or baby spinach)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup grapes, halved
1 cup beets, cut into small cubes
1 cup cucumber, cut into small cubes
1 whole avocado, cubed
3-4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together well and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve!

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Once again, a beautiful, elegant dish that comes together very quickly if the quinoa is prepped in advance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and enjoy your weekends, too.

xo

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariah April 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

This post rocks! I honestly waiver between veganism and ploy – I realize they are worlds apart to you!!! – but to those of us eager to have a “real foods”, organic diet, both have separate appeals… Posts like these reply help!

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Mariah April 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

That was supposed to be paleo… iPhone :/

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Cat @ Cat's Kitchen April 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm

That is beautiful! The colours are really elegant. As soon as I saw it I wrote it down on this week’s dinner plan.

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jen April 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm

hi gena – thanks for another amazing looking dish! your meals always have me craving hearty salads with avocado, but i find that i have a lot of trouble buying avocados at my local market… i think that im letting them ripen correctly, but when i cut into them they often don’t taste right or seem to be bad inside. do you have any tips on how to choose an avocado? it’s so disappointing to spend $2 on one and then have to throw it away!

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Anonymous March 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Let them ripe at room temperature. Once ripe put them in the fridge.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale April 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Well, doesn’t that look heavenly.

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bitt April 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Like any dietary changes, becoming will take some adjustments. I think to those of us who have it down, it can seem easy at least as far as what to make etc. I often feel like that I have no issues with it, it’s others that do.

I like your salad combo idea. I almost never put the grains on my salad for some weird reason but I should.

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Carrie (Carrie On Vegan) April 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Your equation for a healthy, vegan meal sounds pretty ideal to me. Good luck with your studying and your exam! I’m at the tail end of my semester and can’t wait for a break! Too bad I have summer school this year, but somehow even a change of topic feels refreshing. :)

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Averie @ Averie Cooks April 20, 2012 at 11:43 pm

beets, baby kale, and a big bowl full of greenery look especially nice right now.

Have a great & happy weekend, Gena!

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Clare April 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

Goodness this sounds good.. love the idea of grapes in a salad – will be trying this for sure! :)

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Ela April 21, 2012 at 1:25 am

I love the attention you put both into visual presentation and into nutritional balancing!

So excited for some beets coming in my CSA box next week…
love
Ela

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Karen April 21, 2012 at 7:11 am

I’ve been on a quinoa/veggie/protein bowl lunch kick for quite a while, and have yet to become bored. The combinations are endless, especially if you change up the quinoa – the red and black varieties become canvasses for completely different flavor profiles. I favor cooking my quinoa/grains in a low sodium broth to amp up the flavor.

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Sarah April 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

Love the look of this salad! I’m loving fruits in my salads at the mo- current faves are blueberries and strawberries.

I just read your previous post and comments re. being vegan. I’m still transitioning because it’s hard. I find it easy to be vegan at home or when I’m out and about and starving; especially as I love vegan food. My biggest problem is when I’m eating with family, I just haven’t gotten up the courage to say I’m vegan again (probably because I feel guilty about all my diet changes in the past and ED times); especially as the inlaws don’t get what’s wrong with eating fish and eggs too. I’m going to have to work on it somehow.

Hope studying goes well this weekend, lovely Gena. xoxox

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janet @ the taste space April 21, 2012 at 9:59 am

I agree that cooking vegan at home is actually quite easy but the isolation can come when you start to eat out with friends and family who don’t understand. This salad looks fabulous, Gena, and I can’t wait to try it.

(your recipe is missing the number for the balsamic vinegar, btw!)

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Hayden April 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm

This recipe looks so good, the photo really seals it! If anyone lives in the San Fran area and is looking for more yummy vegan eats, the pop up restaurant Wildflower is coming to the bay area for Cinco de Mayo weekend. Check it out and spread the word! http://ieatgrass.com/2012/04/wildflower-comes-to-san-francisco-for-cinco-de-mayo/

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SusanM April 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for that tip. I hadn’t heard of Wildflower but i just checked out the link. Hope to make it to the pop up on May 4 or 5.

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Lolita @ Peace, Love and Greens April 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

Another delicious recipe for a die hard love that we share: salad… I’m drooling!

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kari April 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

Yum! i just cooked some quinoa also and i may add this ingredients to it.

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Cat @ Cat's Kitchen April 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I made this on Sunday night – so tasty! And so presentable :)
Thanks Gena!

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com April 25, 2012 at 12:48 am

Healthy fat + complex carb + protein source – love this formula! Simple, yet genius!!!

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clau June 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I love this recipe yumm yummm yumm. However, the quinoa is cooked so how is this “raw vegan” ?

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