Mediterranean Kale Quinoa Salad with Chicken.
I have one heck of a flavor explosion for you today – my favorite Mediterranean kale salad!
Okay, this is embarrassing.
It’s ANOTHER recipe I’ve been making at home that is totally inspired by Panera. I know! It’s like I’m living ten years ago with all of these Panera salads.
(p.s. this strawberry poppyseed salad will be in full effect in spring!)
But this one is just soooo wonderful. I actually find myself craving it. There is crunch and flavor and texture and it doesn’t make me feel like I’m eating a sad lunch salad.
Plus, it makes me feel GOOD. Lots of great stuff in here for us.
Back in the fall, we started ordering the modern greek quinoa salad at Panera. I somehow realized (or someone told me?!) that you could add smoked pulled chicken to the salad and it was the best day ever. Made the salad about 150 times better.
As a side bar, any time I get a salad at Panera now, I order the smoked pulled chicken. Try it! You won’t regret it.
For this Mediterranean kale salad, I became a total cheater and used a rotisserie chicken. I love the ones from Whole Foods and they make dinner so easy in a pinch.
It’s not smoked, but we do have a smoker and I’m not opposed to smoking chicken for said salad. They are a quick meat to smoke anyway, so it may be in the cards soon. The kicker is that I love shredded chicken in a salad! If you’re short on time, rotisserie is the way to go.
The Panera version of this salad has a tomato sofrito blend, but I couldn’t exactly figure that out. It seems like a sticky mixture of tomatoes and quinoa, albeit still delicious. And the sofrito just didn’t seem to… mesh… with the Mediterranean salad flavors I was going for.
So my solution was to make a batch of quinoa and throw it in.
Um yes so easy!
It’s simple, but it adds a lot to the salad in terms of texture and satiety.
The comes all the flavor. In addition to the chicken and quinoa, we have cherry tomatoes. Roasted red peppers. Kalamata olives. Sliced cucumber. Finally, tons of feta.
But! My favorite part of this salad is nothing spectacular. It’s those crunchy sliced almonds. They are something I’d never think to put on this salad combination myself.
And of course, I used the honey roasted ones which make it even better. So much crunch. Not to mention deliciousness.
Pretty sure this has everything I want in each bite.
Mediterranean Kale Salad
- 4 cups curly green kale, shredded with a knife
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I love the tricolor quinoa from Trader Joes!)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup diced roasted red peppers
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons diced shallot
- lemon wedges, for spritzing
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
If needed, cook your quinoa according to package directions. It should on take 15 minutes!
Place the kale in a bowl and massage the leaves with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Set it aside for 10 minutes. I usually chop up the vegetables while I want! After 1 minutes, season it with salt and pepper and toss once more.
To assemble the salad, add the chicken and quinoa into the bowl of the kale and toss again. Add on the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, olives, almonds, feta and shallot. Drizzle on some of the dressing and toss. Serve with additional dressing and a lemon wedge.
In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, dill, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This dressing stays great in the fridge in a sealed container for a week or so, so feel free to make a double batch if desired!