Perfect Protein Salad

Recipe developed and contributed by Maureen Gualtieri

We’re so close to spring I can taste it. But we have to stay patient as Mother Earth, on her own ancient timetable, slowly but surely sends the sprouts of new produce up. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy salad while we wait! This gorgeously jewel-toned salad showcases a few reliable staples, as well as the last of winter’s bounty: sweet, earthy beets and hearty kale. This recipe isn’t “perfect” (let’s stay humble here), but the protein quotient is: the whole grain quinoa packs a huge 8g per serving, and boasts enough varying amino acids to be considered a complete protein. To add to the fun, the mustard grains in DFC’s Maple Crunch are exactly the size of the quinoa, making the snap of flavour in each bite a delightful surprise. With the salty punches from sundried tomatoes and olives, and the creamy tang of goat cheese… You know what? Maybe this salad is perfect!

Perfect Protein Salad

(Yield: 4 meal-sized servings)

for the salad

1 c. uncooked quinoa

1/2 bunch lacinato kale

2 medium beets, cooked and sliced

6 large cerignola olives (or other type of big green olives), pitted and chopped

6 sundried tomato halves (in oil), chopped

1/2 c. roasted pepitas

crumbled goat cheese, for garnish


for the dressing

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp DFC’s Maple Crunch mustard

Rinse your quinoa (if necessary; most quinoa comes already cleaned), then cook. I use the rice method: twice as much water as quinoa, brought to a boil in a saucepan then dropped to a simmer. The quinoa is done when the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

While the quinoa is simmering, rinse and prep your kale by stripping the leaves off the stems, stacking and rolling them up,  and finely slicing them into a chiffonade. Throw them into a nice big bowl, and add in the rest of your salad ingredients, minus the goat cheese. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust the ratios if necessary.

Once the quinoa has cooked, allow it to cool. Add the quinoa to the salad ingredients, pour the dressing over top, and knock yourself out mixing the whole thing extremely well. (It may seem like a lot of dressing, but don’t worry. The kale needs a good dousing to further break down its fibres—and the quinoa will absorb the rest!)

When the kale starts wilting a bit from the effects of the dressing, you’re ready to serve your salad. Scoop it out into bowls, and sprinkle with goat cheese to taste. For extra extra protein, top with crispy fried tofu wedges, a chicken breast grilled with DFC’s Original BBQ sauce, or slices of last night’s perfectly done steak!

This greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts salad will nonetheless require the following parts: kale, quinoa, olives, lemon, pepitas, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, beets, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and DFC’s Maple Crunch mustard.

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