The mighty superfood kale has become one of our favorite leafy greens for hearty, nutrient dense salads. While any variety of kale can be used in this Kale Quinoa Salad — from tender baby kale leaves to curly kale — we especially enjoy the flavor and texture from lacinato kale. This is sometimes referred to as Dinosaur kale.
Lacinato kale has long, thick, straight leaves that benefit from a quick massage before serving. For this recipe, we’re pairing raw kale with cooked quinoa, fresh mint, thinly sliced Serrano or jalapeño peppers (for heat!), and shaved cheese. We always have Parmigiano Reggiano on hand, but Pecorino Romano works great too.
Toss everything with our delicious homemade Kale Salad Dressing (or something else equally light and vibrant, that will be absorbed by the quinoa), then serve it up!
- Lacinato kale: You can use any variety of kale you like, this is my favorite!
- Quinoa: A plant-based source of protein and fiber that will help to keep you full longer, and absorbs all the flavors of the salad dressing.
- Mint leaves: This adds the most delicious, bright, lemony flavor!
- Jalapeño or serrano pepper: Thinly sliced pepper adds a pleasant heat that complements the other ingredients.
- Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese: Gotta have some salty cheese!
- Flaky sea salt, for serving.
We’ve paired this quick and easy Kale and Quinoa Salad with our ever-reliable 5 minute Kale Salad Dressing. It’s got a bright, vibrant acidity that, when massaged onto the tough kale leaves about 10 minutes before serving, helps to break down and soften the leaves. You’ll love the addition of Aleppo pepper — it adds a unique tangy, fruity taste that perfectly complements the Serrano peppers and fresh mint.
How To Make Kale Quinoa Salad
- Cook quinoa. Rinse quinoa in a colander, then place in a small saucepan and cover with water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Massage kale. Place sliced kale and mint leaves in a large bowl, then toss with a few tablespoons of our Kale Salad Dressing. Allow the kale leaves to soften for about 10 minutes.
- Finish, then serve. Add cooked quinoa, shaved Parmesan cheese, and lots of thinly sliced jalapeño or serrano peppers. Drizzle on a bit more dressing, toss once more, then serve with a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Easy, healthy, and delicious with a variety of proteins and entrées!
Make Ahead, Leftovers, and Storage
- Make ahead: You want at least 10 minutes to let the massaged kale leaves hang out before serving (this will help to soften and tenderize them), but beyond that, kale salads are really best served fresh. Yes, their leaves hold up better than something like Romaine or Arugula to salad dressings, but they’ll still eventually wilt. We recommend serving this the same day its made.
- Leftovers: If you do have leftovers and don’t mind the wilted greens, you can store in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Our biggest tip for making kale salad ahead of time is to prep the individual ingredients, then assemble just before serving. That means you can wash, dry, and prep the kale leaves, thinly slice the peppers and cheese, and even cook the quinoa in advance.
Store everything separately, then toss together when ready! Added bonus: the kale salad dressing can be prepped and stored for up to a week!
How To Serve
You could easily top this kale quinoa salad with roasted chicken, grilled salmon, or cast iron steak and call it a day. It would be fantastic with citrus marinated grilled shrimp (yum!). Here are some entree ideas to get the wheels rolling:
Great texture, amazing taste, all with the surprising yet enjoyable heat from sliced peppers! This one is a keeper (and it’ll keep you full!).
If you make this Kale Quinoa Salad recipe, please let us know by leaving a review or rating below!
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More recipes with kale to try!30-Minute Creamy Kale Gnocchi with Pancetta 30-Minute Chicken Thighs with White Beans & Kale No Cook Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad Hearty Tomato, White Bean, & Kale Soup Lemon Kale Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing
Kale Quinoa Salad with Mint and Serrano Peppers
- 1 cup quinoa any type
- 1 bunch kale lacinato or curly kale, ribs removed, leaves cut into ½" thick strips
- ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves plus more for serving
- 2 Serrano peppers or jalapeño peppers, very thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- ½ cup kale salad dressing or your favorite salad dressing
- Cook the quinoa. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa, then return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat, then allow to sit on the side, covered, until needed, at least 5 minutes.
- Massage the kale. Place kale strips and mint in a large mixing bowl, then drizzle on half of the salad dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale, then allow to sit for 10 minutes to help soften the kale.
- Finish, then serve. To the kale, add cooked quinoa, thinly sliced jalapeños, and ⅓ cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese. Add the remaining salad dressing, then toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt.
- Nutrition facts are an approximation based on the use of a vinaigrette salad dressing, such as our Kale Salad dressing.