Dinner tonight! Kale-and-quinoa salad

Dinner tonight! Kale-and-quinoa salad
Kale-and-quinoa salad from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Today’s “Dinner Tonight” suggestion is also our current Culinary SOS, a request from Carrie for the kale-and-quinoa salad from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena:

I recently “rediscovered” La Grande Orange in Pasadena’s Del Mar station and absolutely love its kale and quinoa salad -- it’s light and refreshing, although sometimes it is a bit too heavy on the dressing. ... I have enjoyed it often enough to know that it contains shredded kale, quinoa, diced red bell pepper, grapes, sunflower seeds and grated Manchego. I think that’s everything, however, I need help with the dressing. Please, can you help me find it?

Dark green julienned strips of kale are tossed with nutty quinoa and sunflower seeds, colorful bell pepper and red grapes, then dressed with a bright champagne vinaigrette. Parmigiano and manchego cheese lend a subtle richness; the preserved lemon strips add a nice salty tang. The salad comes together in under an hour. You can find the recipe below.

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La Grande Orange Cafe’s kale-and-quinoa salad

Total time: 50 minutes

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: Adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena. Preserved lemons can be found at select well-stocked grocery stores as well as cooking and gourmet markets.

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

Kale-and-quinoa salad

1/2 cup quinoa


4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch

Champagne vinaigrette

3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese

10 to 12 strips finely julienned preserved lemon

1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.

2. In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.

4. Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.

Each of 4 servings: 375 calories; 9 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 9 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 219 mg sodium.