Weeknight Cooking

Red Quinoa Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette + Kale Salad

March  2, 2014

We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there. 

Today: A tale of two salads.


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If you think it's hard to define "life" or "love," then you haven't tried to pin down the meaning of "salad." What does it even denote, this so-called "salad"? How can caprese salad fall into same umbrella category as Jell-O salad? What even is Jell-O salad? These are the kind of philosophical questions we're turning over in our brains.

Tonight, make two different, but complementary, versions of salad (both more appetizing than Jell-O salad, we promise). Rather than pin them against each other as opposing forces, unite the two with a spicy dressing that will add a kick to both dishes. You'll have both a hearty grain salad that's full of protein from quinoa and white beans and a green and leafy salad that's the perfect canvas for all of the week's leftovers. 

And for dessert? Fruit salad is the only logical choice. 

The Menu

Take advantage of our handy grocery list and game plan, or click the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes.

Red Quinoa Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette by Jillian Bernardini 

Kale Salad by Gena Hamshaw

The List

Serves 4

2 shallots
2 jalapeños
4 limes
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
Butternut squash
1 cup red quinoa
1 bunch of kale
1 bunch cilantro
One 15-ounce can of white beans, drained
Loaf of hearty bread (optional)

Your kitchen is probably equipped with garlic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil, canola oil, and smoked paprika. If not, add those to the list, too.

For the kale salad, the more leftovers you have in your fridge and pantry, the better. 

The Plan

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F, then start on the vinaigrette. Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and the shallots, then seed and mince the jalapeños. Combine with the zest of 1 lime and the juice of 4, as well as 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Pour in 4 tablespoons each of olive and canola oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Set aside. 

3. On a baking sheet, toss the pumpkin seeds with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Toast in the oven for 8 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Take out the seeds to cool, then turn the oven temperature to 400° F. Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash. Coat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil, season, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes. 

4. Meanwhile, toast the quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, stir well, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

5. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the kale. Add about half of the lime dressing to the salad and massage the kale until it is softer and slightly wilted. Now it’s time to add as many ingredients as your heart desires and your pantry or fridge yields: leftover noodles and roasted vegetables, tempeh, tofu, avocado, nuts, cheese, etc. Chop the cilantro and add a couple of tablespoons to the salad. 

6. When the quinoa is tender, transfer to a large bowl and fluff. Add the squash, white beans, half of the pumpkin seeds, and 2 tablespoons of cilantro to the quinoa. Toss with the remaining lime dressing, taste for seasoning, and garnish with the remaining pumpkin seeds and more cilantro. 

7. Cut yourself a big piece of bread if you're feeling hungry, then eat the salads side by side in a salad showdown or mixed together in perfect harmony. 

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Tereza
  • Shikha Kaiwar
    Shikha Kaiwar
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Tereza March 3, 2014
Love, love, love quinoa! Did I mention that I love quinoa? Thank you for sharing these delicious recipes!

Shikha K. March 3, 2014
Mmmm I love quinoa, but tend to stick to the non-red variety. This does look colorful and delish!