Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kale Salad with Verjus Vinaigrette

Since Martin loves Kale Salads, I am always searching for new ways to serve it.  My latest version is this one - Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, Green Apples slices, Green Grapes, Red Quinoa and Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), which was inspired by one I had at a restaurant in La Jolla called Georges.  I loved the combination of ingredients, but they served theirs with a Yogurt Dressing and I wanted a dressing without dairy. So, I made a Verjus and Shallot Vinaigrette instead. For those of you who haven't tried Verjus - it is unfermented grape juice and it's lovely. It can be used in place of vinegar but I find it lighter and more delicate.  Because the flavor is so subtle, it is important to use a lighter olive oil or another light oil, like safflower or the Verjus will be overpowered. Of course, you can also use lemon (with a bit of honey) or vinegar instead too, but because of the fruit, be sure to use a fruity vinegar like Apple Cider, Raspberry vinegar or Champagne vinegar. This salad is a simple one, the only thing that needs to be done ahead is to cook the quinoa, which adds a lot of protein so it makes a great Vegetarian lunch.  Then it is easy to assemble the salad.  The sweetness of the grapes contrasts wonderfully with the bitterness of the Kale and the tartness of the apple and the soft and chewy Quinoa contrasts with the crunch of the Pumpkin Seeds. It's a wonderful salad and tastes like it's almost summer! 

Kale Salad with Verjus Vinaigrette

1 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, pulled off center stalk and cut into bite size pieces

1 Green Apple, cored, sliced thinly and peeled - placed in lightly salted water
1 cup Green Grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup cooked Red Quinoa (see below)
1/4 cup Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Put the Kale in a salad bowl and cover with salad dressing and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes and add the Green Apple, the Green Grape halves and the Quinoa. Toss again. Sprinkle with Pumpkin Seeds when ready to serve.

Verjus Vinaigrette

½ cup white Verjus (can also use Apple Cider, Raspberry or Champagne Vinegar but add a bit of honey)

1 clove Shallot, minced (about 1 Tablespoon)

4 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil or Safflower Oil
Salt and Pepper
Mix together in a small bowl and reserve until ready to use

To Cook Quinoa:

1/4 cup Red Quinoa (pre-rinsed)*

1/2 cup Water
Pinch of Salt

Put Quinoa and Water in a small pot and add salt. Bring to a boil and cover, turning heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Fluff and cool before adding to the salad. Can be made ahead.

*Note: Unless you are using a boxed Quinoa that is pre-rinsed, it is necessary to rinse it in a fine meshed strainer.  

Five Element Analysis

Kale belongs to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Apple add even more. Quinoa, being a seed contributes the Water Element and the Pumpkin Seeds bring in additional Water.  The Verjus which is really not very sweet grape juice belongs to the Earth Element as do the grapes. The Shallots bring in the Metal Element.  Only the Fire Element is missing, which can be easily remedied by serving it with a glass of ice tea.

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