kale salad with lemon-tahini dressing

I know everyone and their mothers love kale. It's so good for you (truth) and it's so versatile (truth) and it's easy to prepare (half-truth).

But I really hated kale for awhile. I hated how chewy it was. I hated cutting the leaves off their stems, or buying the pre-cut kind and still having to deal with tons of stems anyway. I hated how long kale took to wilt while sauteing. I just hated how high-maintenance and presumptuous it was. Like 

oh hey I'm kale and I'm one of the best possible things you could feed yourself and I'm green and green is good and look at me now...look at me now...

I was getting a farm-fresh-to-you box for a month or two, and I got kale every single week. And every single week I would have high hopes for redeeming this leafy green and doing something creative with it, and every week I would end up throwing it out. It would sit in the back of my fridge, waiting to be used, waiting to be loved, but I would neglect it and neglect it and neglect it until it couldn't be neglected no mo'.

Then I went to dinner with friends + boyfriend on a Saturday night, and the place we went to specialized in their 50/50 burger...half of the patty was beef, half of the patty was bacon. (I know everyone and their mothers also love bacon, I am just not one of those people). So besides wanting to vomit, I felt helpless.

I browsed the menu for awhile, nervous I'd have to order something that would make me feel sick, and then I saw it:

kale salad with lemon-tahini dressing.

Kale was suddenly my best friend and saving grace and there was no way I would turn my back on her now.

The verdict was pretty clear after that; I had been wrong, kale had been right, and it was time to give our strained relationship some much-needed TLC.

I started craving the salad I ate that night, and decided I should recreate it plus add a whole bunch of stuff it didn't have. The original salad was very simple: kale, chopped parsely, and the lemon-tahini dressing. If I'm going to eat salad as a meal, it better fill me up, so I added chicken, herbed quinoa, chickpeas (protein on protein on protein, am I right), plus some shallots for a little zing.

And let me tell you, it was good. It was real good. Still chewy as ever, but worth it. I'd say don't skimp on the toppings, too. They really make it. And distract from all that dang chewing.

Kale Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Herbed Quinoa:

2 cups chicken stock (or water if you have none)

1 cup quinoa

juice from 1/3 a lemon + its zest

Dressing: (adapted from here)

1/4 c. olive oil

juice from 1/3 a (large) lemon + its zest

splash of apple cider vinegar (or red)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

pinch of dried thyme

pepper + coarse salt to taste

In a small pot over high heat, combine liquid, quinoa, and lemon juice/zest. Bring to boil, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients together and giving it a good shake or swirl or two.

When the quinoa is done, add dressing, stir, and set aside.

Salad:

1 pkg prepped kale or 1 bunch kale, stems and ribs removed

1 14.5 oz can chickpeas

2 shallots, quartered and sliced vertically

chopped fresh parsley to taste

cooked chicken

quinoa mixture

2 tablespoons tahini dressing (I used the stuff from Trader Joe's and diluted it a bit with water for a thinner consistency)

Assemble the salad to your liking! How much kale you use will determine how much of everything else you use. As I ate mine, I noticed I really loved the chickpeas and quinoa...the quinoa is a lot of the flavor and the chickpeas really complement the dressing. It'd be good with a squeeze of lemon juice on top, too.

Basically, do what you want. And eat kale.