And so it begins. Planning gifts and holiday cards. Ending farewells with “See you next year!”. Emptying the fridge, freezing whatever can be frozen, giving away everything else that can’t. Shelving 2011’s planner, putting up the 2012 calendar. Closing bank accounts, paying bills, putting the mail on hold, sacrificing sleep to finish projects, whatever the cost. A hectic rush to the finish line where the (cramped) space of an airplane seat awaits, free of the shackles of the Internet.
We leave in four hours for our vacation in France, and while I’m really excited, the full prospect of the journey hasn’t had the time to sink in. That’s partly because I’m still sitting here, blogging, trying to delay the inevitable task of packing that awaits. Ah, packing. It’s a good thing that M’s a wonder packer. Can you imagine how horrifying trips would be if I had married someone who was as inept at packing a suitcase as I am?
I shudder at the thought.
So this salad. It’s easy and nutritious to boot. I started experimenting with different grains this year in an attempt to wean ourselves off an over-reliance on dried pasta for weeknight meals. Thanks to some excellent vegetarian cookbooks out there, it was easy to start incorporating a bit of quinoa, farro or cous cous in vegetable dishes for a delicious one-pan meal. Discovering these grains opened up a new universe of quick meals, and while we’re still reaching for the Barilla pack every so often, it’s a lot less frequent compared to our pre-quinoa period.
This salad is a derivation of the kale stuffing from last year’s Thanksgiving dinner. Apart from being a reliable accompaniment to beef or lamb, it’s also well-suited to be tossed with your favorite grain for a quick lunch. In this holiday season where it’s easy to forget why it is that we’re braving relentless crowds or baking up a storm for Christmas gifts, this salad will give you pause to breathe, recharge and empower you to go back out there and tackle the holidays head on.
Kale, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Chard Stuffing recipe/ Serves 2 generously
This recipe features kale, but you could easily substitute any leafy winter green, like swiss chard for instance. Add a fried egg to dress things up, or, for your holiday feasts, leave out the grains and serve the kale to accompany your roasts.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 ounces/ 56 grams pine nuts
- 1/2 pound/ 260 grams kale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot (about 2 ounces/50 grams) peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 ounces/ 85 grams dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture about 10 minutes into cooking to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.
- In an oven heated to 300F/ 150C, toast the pine nuts until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Remove the stems of the kale, then stack the leaves and thinly slice. Finely chop the stems as well.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the kale and the cranberries, stir, then leave to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the pine nuts, chili flakes (if using) and salt, stir and leave to cook again, covered, for another 5 minutes. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add some water, a tablespoon at a time. You want just enough moisture to create steam in the skillet, but not too much to give you a sauce.
- Toss the kale mixture and quinoa in a medium bowl and serve immediately, or at room temperature.