Kale Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Say goodbye to boring salads! This Kale Quinoa and Chickpea Salad is bursting with flavour, texture, and nutrition! Made with massaged kale, crunchy veggies and sunflower seeds, tricolour quinoa, chickpeas, feta cheese, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette dressing. This recipe is great to meal prep for lunches or enjoy as a side at dinner.
Salads get a bad rap sometimes for being a bland or boring ‘health food’. But when you know what to add to your salads to make them more filling, satisfying, and actually taste good, salads can be really delicious!
As a Registered Dietitian, I’m happy to declare that this Kale Quinoa and Chickpea Salad is a great example of a delicious, satisfying, and healthy salad recipe. It’s got depth, texture and flavour, plus fibre, protein and healthy fats to keep to you full.
While I already have a delicious Autumn Kale Salad recipe here on my site, I wanted to create a kale salad that was a little more evergreen – one that could be enjoyed any time of year! I also adopted the Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing from my Citrus Arugula Salad recipe and it pairs so perfectly with the kale, chickpeas and salty feta cheese.
How to Build a Satisfying Salad:
When it comes to making a salad that is nutritious but also filling and satisfying, the key is to think about turning your salad into a balanced dish.
In order to build a balanced meal, snack, or even side dish, there are certain ingredients we want to consider:
- A source of protein: Protein is important for feeling full after eating, because it digests slower than the other macronutrients, which are carbohydrates and fat. Foods like legumes, meat, or fish are good ways to add protein to salads.
- A source of fat: Fat is important for satiety, which is the feeling or state of being sated. Foods like cheese, olive oil, nuts, and seeds are great ways to add fat to salads.
- A source of carbohydrates: Don’t skimp on carbs! Carbohydrates give us energy and are often important for us to feel satisfied. Add fibre-rich carbohydrates to your salads with quinoa, fruit, or cooked whole grains.
- Texture: Different textures make the eating experience enjoyable, which contributes to satisfaction! Add texture to your salad with nuts, seeds, cheeses, legumes, croutons, or even crushed up crackers.
- Flavours: Satisfying salads are ones that taste good! Add delicious flavours with good olive oil, your favourite dressings, fresh or dried herbs, fresh or dried fruit, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or a tasty cheese.
Kale Quinoa & Chickpea Salad Ingredients:
Here’s what you’ll need to make this satisfying kale salad recipe:
- Canned chickpeas
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion
- Feta cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Roasted sunflower seeds
For the lemony dressing, you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
Nutrition Benefits of this Kale Salad:
Is kale a superfood? What are the nutrition benefits of kale anyway? As a dietitian, I’m here to help you understand the benefits of eating kale, and the rest of the ingredients in this salad too. 🙂
Kale is a dark, fibrous leafy green. It’s a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. It’s also a source of potassium and magnesium, and it’s a plant-based source of the minerals iron and calcium. Kale is also a source of fibre, offering 2.5 grams of fibre per cup.
As for the superfood question, the term ‘superfood’ has no specific criteria. Generally, foods that are highly nutrient-dense and foods that are considered beneficial to health are considered superfoods. So I can see why some people do consider kale to be a superfood. Because it is very fibrous, it can be quite tough to chew, which is why I recommend massaging your kale before eating it raw. I’ll walk you through how to massage kale later in this post.
Other notable ingredients in this salad are the chickpeas which are a good source of fibre and plant-based protein. Quinoa is also a good source of fibre and is a complete protein source, too. The red bell pepper is a great source of vitamin C, and the extra virgin olive oil in our dressing is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats.
How to Massage Kale:
Massaging kale is easy, and it helps take it from tough and fibrous to a softer, more tender texture. This generally tends to be more pleasurable to eat!
Once you have de-stemmed and roughly chopped your kale, place it in a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil or squeeze of lemon juice, then using clean hands, gently massage the kale leaves between your fingers for 1-2 minutes. As you massage the leaves, you will notice that they begin to soften. When they soften, the fibrous texture is breaking down, making the kale more tender, easier to chew, and more enjoyable to eat.
Refer to the video in the recipe card below for a visual example!
Can This Kale Quinoa Salad Be Made Vegan?
As is, this kale salad recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free. It can easily be made vegan by swapping the feta cheese for a plant-based feta alternative (or by omitting the feta altogether). You can also swap out the honey in the lemon vinaigrette dressing for a vegan sweetener like maple syrup or agave.
Ways to Enjoy This Salad:
You can enjoy this Kale Quinoa and Chickpea Salad:
- As a main dish for lunch. I recommend meal-prepping this salad on Sunday to have for lunches all week! If you are meal-prepping, I love glass meal prep containers like these ones.
- Paired with a protein. You can serve the salad as a side paired with a cooked protein like chicken or fish.
- Alongside a pasta dish or pizza. It’s all about balance, right? My family and I served it with delivery pizza and it was a hit!
Here are some delicious additions or substitutions you can make based on what you have on hand:
- Lentils (canned or dried) make a great substitution for the chickpeas
- Pumpkin seeds or chopped almonds work well if you don’t have sunflower seeds
- Use goat cheese instead of feta if you prefer
- Use a store-bought dressing instead of the home-made one if you’re short on time!
Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you try it, let me know what you think by leaving a rating and a review in the comments below. Oh, and be sure to take a photo and tag me on @hannahmagee_rd so I can see!
Kale Quinoa Chickpea Salad
For the Kale Quinoa Chickpea Salad:
- 4 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds, for topping
For the Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:
- Add kale to a large salad bowl. Drizzle with 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and massage gently with clean hands for 1-2 minutes, until the leaves have softened.
- Add remaining salad ingredients (except sunflower seeds) to the bowl.
- Prep the lemon vinaigrette by combining all salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar or sealable container. Seal, then shake well to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. You may not need to use all of the dressing depending on your preferences.
- Sprinkle the salad with roasted sunflower seeds then serve. Enjoy!