January 16, 2012

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Cranberry Quinoa Salad

After the Toblerone cheesecake bars I last posted, I felt obligated to share something a little more on the healthy side today!

Quinoa has become a very popular “superfood” in the last few years, and there’s a ton of info out there about its nutritional value so I won’t repeat it all here (but check out this link if you want a quick overview). Quinoa’s one of my favourite things to cook with because it’s so versatile and works great in big batches of healthy dishes that I can eat throughout the week for healthy and energizing lunches or dinners.

While this dish isn’t a revolutionary new way to eat quinoa or anything, it’s a really tasty and healthy meal that makes a great addition to your repertoire of quinoa recipes. Protein-rich quinoa is combined with even more nutritious ingredients like sweet potatoes and kale, with some pearl onions and cranberries thrown in for added sweetness and texture.

I loved the combination of all those ingredients, but the balsamic dressing really tied it all together and soaked right into the quinoa to boost the flavour of the dish even more. I love adding flavourful dressings to dishes like this, but if you aren't a big fan of balsamic or find it overpowering, you may want to start by adding less of the dressing and tasting it to make sure you add the amount that suits your taste.

A sprinkle of pecans on top added the perfect finishing crunch to the dish (I recommend adding them individually to each serving so that they don’t get soggy). And if you wanted this to pack even more of a "superfood" punch, I bet pomegranate seeds in place of cranberries would be a great substitution!

I actually made this back in December when I wanted to have a big bowl of something healthy on hand for the holiday madness, and my sister and I loved grabbing servings of it for lunches for at least a week. Even Ryan, who is usually pretty skeptical of “healthy food”, enjoyed it for a few lunches himself too. So whether you’re a quinoa lover or skeptic, you’ll love this easy and satisfying dish!

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Cranberry Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Adapted from Domestic Fits

Serves at least 4 as a main, or serves a crowd as a side


For the quinoa:

1 package quinoa, about 3-4 cups cooked
2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups pearl onions
1 bunch of kale, leaves finely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing:

1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Optional add-in: 1/4 to 1/2 cup pecans


Cook the quinoa according to package directions.

Cook the sweet potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain.

Cook the pearl onions in a medium pot of boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Cut off the ends, peel the outer layer, then chop the onions.

If desired, blanch the kale in a pot of simmering water for one minute, then drain. I prefer the kale this way rather than raw, but you can leave it raw if you like.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. If serving the entire amount at once, mix the pecans in along with all the other ingredients. If planning to have leftovers, add the pecans before serving so they don’t get soggy.

*Keep leftovers refrigerated. Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature - I enjoyed it each way!


  1. I'm glad you helped me eat it all .. as much as I love leftovers, I
    don't know if I could have finished the whole thing myself, there was

  2. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!  I loved the colours and flavours in this too :) 

  3. I am obsessed with quinoa lately.  I am going to make this for sure. 

  4.  Me too!  I'm always looking for a quinoa recipe with lots of flavour and this definitely hit the spot

  5. Tasty! I added black beans and gorgonzola for a little more protein and zip!

  6. Just got done making this. So Yummy!!!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe

  7. just tried out this recipe. Two thumbs up from me :) The only thing I did different was to add slivered almonds


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