Quinoa, Kale, Cherry Tomato, and Avo Salad -- Fall

This fall I am still seeing an abundance of local, organic cherry tomatoes in the markets and stores, amazing! Tomatoes are one of those veggies that are so flavourful when in season, and so bland otherwise. They add some bright colour to this dish, but if you are someone who can’t tolerate tomatoes and other foods from the nightshade family, just omit them, or replace them with slices of red grapes to shake it up. I love a hearty grain salad for lunch or dinner at this time of year, and if you make extra this dish can be great for breakfast.

1½ cups quinoa, preferably tricolour or red 2½ cups water, divided, more as needed Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium bunches black kale (~1 lb total), stems and ribs removed, finely chopped 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise (or grapes for a night shade free version) ¾ cup chopped fresh basil
2 medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
¼ cup hemp hearts

Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 small shallot, minced
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa well with cold water in a fine mesh sieve. Add rinsed quinoa to a saucepan and add 2¼ cup water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until water has been absorbed about 15 minutes for tricolour, and 20 min for red quinoa. Turn off heat and let stand covered for 5 min. Fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large, shallow bowl and let cool.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale and toss to coat with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add 1⁄4 cup water. Cover and cook over low heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add to quinoa.

To make dressing, combine lemon zest, lemon juice and shallot in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 6 Tbsp oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Add tomatoes and basil to quinoa and mix in enough dressing to season to taste. Toss. Arrange avocado slices on top of the salad and sprinkle in pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts and serve.

Adapted from Living Without Magazine’s Gluten and Free + more