I love this stage of spring. The fresh greens are vibrant and fragrant and stark against the bark of wet trees and soggy earth. The leaves glow against the backdrop of early morning gray skies and radiate with life in the evening sunshine.
Robins hop across dewy lawns in search of tasty morsels, and the call of the cranes reaches us even here, down the road from their home in the swamp. The air is still cool and not yet clouded with mosquitos to trouble us as we prepare our outdoor spaces for summertime.
There is raking to be done and planting as well. I’m late, as usual, to get some vegetables in the ground, as most of my starters were ruined this year by curious paws and furry bodies who mistook my baby garden for a bed.
Thank goodness for my mother-in-law who has extras to share or it would be a pathetic garden, indeed.
On the days I gather the nerve to get my knees and fingers dirty, I like to get as much done as possible in one go. If my momentum stops, who knows when I will find it again, so there is urgency to my chores.
Preparation on those days is key: a carb and protein-loaded breakfast to fuel us, beverages in a cooler on the porch, plenty of toys and tasks prepared to keep my little one occupied between brief bouts of helpful interest, and a filling lunch that can be simply poured into a bowl and eaten without breaking stride.
This salad is packed with filling protein and great nutrition without being too heavy on the stomach, so you won’t feel the urge to slow down for an afternoon nap.
Quinoa Chickpea Kale Salad
About 3 cups shredded kale
1 can chickpeas
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 red bell pepper — finely diced
½ red onion — very finely diced
4 ounces crumbled feta
1 cup fresh mint — finely chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons high quality olive oil
The juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (at least ½ teaspoon salt)
Cook the quinoa according to the instructions. Put in the refrigerator until it is cold.
Shred the kale and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and some salt.
Use your hands to massage the kale for a few minutes. This will help to soften the greens and will reduce some of the fibrous texture.
Strain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the kale.
Add in the quinoa and the rest of the vegetables and mint.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified and smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning. You may want more or less lemon juice depending on your taste; I like a sweeter dressing, so I use just a splash.
When the dressing is delicious, pour over your salad and use your hands to mix gently but thoroughly.
Toss in the crumbled feta and quickly mix again.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Any longer than that and the kale will likely be very soggy and unappetizing.