toasted quinoa, orange and kale salad with lemon tahini dressing

toasted quinoa, orange and kale salad with lemon tahini dressing

This toasted quinoa and kale salad recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's warm winter salad. The bright citrus is refreshing, and much needed, in the dead of winter, and it successfully offsets the weeks of gingerbread, cinnamon rolls and rich roasted meats that have come before it. Though most salads conjure up an image of hunger an hour after eating, this one is surprisingly filling with the hearty kale, quinoa and nuts. So I don’t know about you, but half the time I make quinoa it’s soggy and the other half it’s still crunchy. Until I read about an amazing new technique, that is.

what’s the best way to cook quinoa?

For the quinoa, I used my favorite technique of deeply toasting the quinoa, and stirring while cooking (I know!), that I learned from Cook's Illustrated. This approach, combined with slightly less water, produces a perfectly fluffy and nutty quinoa. See the recipe below for more details!

This salad is best served immediately after tossing with the dressing, but because kale is so sturdy, it can last several hours before eating without too much wilting, and even makes great leftovers the next day. Enjoy!

utoasted quinoa, orange and kale salad with lemon tahini dressing

toasted quinoa and kale salad with lemon tahini dressing

serves 4 | recipe very loosely adapted from jamie oliver


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, washed, drained and patted dry (or 3 cups cooked)

  • 1 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 tbsp tahini

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch flat leaf tuscan kale, washed and patted dry

  • 2 oranges

  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped


  1. In a medium saucepan, toast washed and dried quinoa over medium high heat for 5- 7 minutes, stirring frequently. It's done when the quinoa makes a continuous popping noise and smells very fragrant.

  2. Add the water, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until grains are just tender and liquid is absorbed, 18- 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff quinoa with fork, set aside to cool.

  3. To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, white wine vinegar, honey and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. For best results, use an immersion blender to mix until it's thick and creamy.

  4. Remove and discard stalks from the kale, stack 6 to 8 leaves, roll them into a tight cigar and slice 1/2 inch thick. Place in a large bowl and continue rolling and slicing remaining kale leaves. With your hands, massage a pinch of salt into the kale for 1 minute, until leaves soften and wilt.

  5. Mix in half the dressing. Add the quinoa and toss together. If needed, add a little more dressing to the salad, toss again, then arrange on a large serving platter.

  6. Peel the oranges, slice into wedges and arrange over the salad. Scatter chopped toasted hazelnuts on top and serve with any remaining dressing on the side.

toasted quinoa, orange and kale salad with lemon tahini dressing