Just because it is winter in the northern hemisphere doesn't mean salads are obsolete. This superfood mandarin quinoa and kale salad recipe with bright citrus flavors will thaw your frozen heart. The sunny citrus combo of sweet mandarin oranges and punchy lime pairs incredibly with the buttery avocado. Smoky roasted butternut squash and crunchy bell peppers bring even more textural interest and depth of flavor to this quinoa and kale salad recipe. Lastly, kick it up with the superfood additions of kale and quinoa and the protein power of chickpeas.
Why You'll Love Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
The salad is not only delicious but also quick to prepare. You will love the melee of flavors, colors, and textures in this superfood kale and quinoa salad. This recipe is perfect for a bulk prep to get lunches ready for the next couple of days. The kale and quinoa base is hardy enough to be dressed in advance and will taste better the next day. The kale and quinoa will grow tastier with time, marinating and absorbing all the citrusy goodness. Don't skimp on the mint! It has such a fresh flavor punch that is both tasty and medicinal.
What You’ll Need to Make Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
Mandarin oranges: provide a burst of sweet and tangy flavor to the salad.
Quinoa: Quinoa is a nutrient-rich grain that's high in protein and fiber. It serves as the salad's base and provides a satisfying, nutty texture.
Chickpeas: Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. They add a hearty, creamy element to the salad.
Butternut squash: Roasted to add a caramelized, savory component to the salad.
Avocado: Avocado brings creaminess and healthy fats to the dish and adds a rich buttery texture.
Baby bell peppers: Add a vibrant color and crunchy texture.
Mint: For a refreshing twist and minty flavor
Lime Juice: adds a tangy, citrusy flavor to the salad and brings out flavors of other ingredients.
Mandarin orange juice: Adds sweet, citrusy note.
Salt: Enhance the overall flavor.
Kale: Loaded with vitamins and minerals and provides a hearty base
Olive oil: used as a dressing
Black pepper: For a hint of spice
Smoked paprika: Adds a smoky and savory flavor to the roasted butternut squash
How to Make Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
Begin by cooking the quinoa according to the package instructions. To yield two cups of cooked quinoa, cook ⅔ cup of quinoa. Once the quinoa is cooked, spread it onto a large platter or sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
Read my post about cooking quinoa. I delve deep into cooking this superfood ancient grain properly, even if you are mystified. My tips will ensure beautiful, fluffy quinoa every time.
Roast Butternut Squash
While the quinoa is cooling, roast the butternut squash. Toss the butternut squash in 1 teaspoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika, and roast for 20 minutes on a sheet pan, turning it halfway through. Let it cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
Prepare the Salad
In a large mixing bowl, put the chilled, cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and bell peppers. Mix them thoroughly until well combined. Now, add the roasted butternut squash, diced avocado, chopped mint, lime juice, mandarin juice, salt, pepper, mandarin oranges, and olive oil. Mix until all the flavors and colors are melded.
Serve Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
To serve, place the salad on a bed of chopped kale and top it with some more diced avocado.
Recipe Tips for Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
- Buy fresh ingredients: Use fresh, ripe ingredients for the best flavor.
- Customize It: Feel free to customize the salad by adding nuts, seeds, or your favorite veggies for an extra crunch.
- Meal prep Friendly: Prepare the salad components in advance and assemble them just before serving. This can save time on busy days. If you want to prep for 4 days, leave out the avocado to prevent browning. and add in when ready to serve.
- Adjust the dressing: The dressing of lime juice, mandarin juice, and olive oil adds zing to the salad. Adjust the dressing to suit your taste.
For Extra Protein Boost: For an extra protein boost, add tofu to the salad. It's a great option for those who want a heartier meal.
Add a Mediterranean Twist: Substitute mint with fresh basil, and the salad will have a Mediterranean flavor profile. You can also add olives for a more robust taste.
For a Spicy Kick: If you love spicy food, sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the salad for a fiery kick.
More Vegan Salad Recipes You'll Love
Mandarin Quinoa and Kale Salad
- 2 mandarin oranges peeled and chopped
- ⅔ cups quinoa
- 16 oz chickpeas drained 15 ounce can
- 1 cup butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1 avocado diced
- 3 baby bell peppers seeded and diced
- 4 tablespoons mint chopped
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 mandarin orange juiced
- 1 pinch Salt
- ½ bunch kale chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pinch black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Cook quinoa according to the package. To yield two cups of cooked quinoa, cook ⅔ cup. When quinoa is cooked, spread it onto a large platter or sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
- Roast butternut squash by tossing in 1 teaspoon olive oil, sprinkling with salt and smoked paprika, and roasting for 20 minutes on a sheet pan, turning once halfway. Let cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a large bowl, put chilled cooked quinoa, chickpeas, bell peppers and mix thoroughly until well-tossed
- Add butternut, avocado, mint, lime juice, mandarin juice, salt and pepper, mandarin oranges, and olive oil.
- Mix until all flavors and colors are melded.
- Put on a bed of kale and top it with some more avocado. Enjoy!