Kale and Quinoa Salad with Crisp Celery, Plumped Cranberries, and Lemon Dressing

This kale salad is simple, redeeming, and delicious by design. It’s a great picnic salad, or more realistically, a great pack-for-work or dinner-after-indulgent-vacation salad. Don’t skip the celery—it’s a totally underrated component that offers some necessary crunch. Kale, quinoa, dried cranberries, almonds, and a mustard-spiked lemon dressing make for a wholesome and delicious salad.

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Kale and Quinoa Salad with Crisp Celery, Plumped Cranberries, and Lemon Dressing

Makes 4 medium salads


  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Several twists of freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 medium bunch curly kale (about 8 ounces), tough ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (about 2 ounces)


1. In a small saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 11 to 14 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the dried cranberries (so they can get nice and plump), and cover the pot. Let the quinoa and cranberries steam with the lid on for 10 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and pepper and whisk until blended.

3. To assemble the salad: Place the chopped kale in a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant, and reduced in volume by about one-third. Add the celery to the bowl.

4. In a small skillet, combine the almonds and olive oil and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the almonds are fragrant and golden on the edges, 5 to 8 minutes. (Be careful, it’s easy to burn those delicate almonds!) Pour the almonds into the salad bowl.

5. While the quinoa mixture is warm, add it to the salad bowl. Drizzle in all of the dressing and toss to coat. Wait until the salad has cooled to nearly room temperature before gently tossing in the crumbled goat cheese so it doesn’t melt. Serve immediately. This salad keeps well, chilled, for up to 4 days.

See also 3 Picnic-Perfect Pasta Salad Recipes