Spring Kale & Quinoa Citrus Salad (Fresh Food Fridays)

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The finished product — yum!

Happy Friday composters! It’s finally March, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Spring, with the sun blazing high and the long cold days wearing thin as we move into the best growing season of the year! As our days have become longer and warmer, the markets and local grocery stores become rainbows of seasonal berries, citrus, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, flowers and greens!

Strawberries are really one of the best crops in the spring, and all the local growers have an amazing selection based on what we saw at Bo’ Diddley this past Wednesday — finally the old market, that year felt more like five to weekly market goers. The switch back to the new and improved original downtown market location, combined with the resumption our Swallowtail CSA share with a cornucopia of organic spring veggies and flowers has started spring off well for us, and we hope for all of you too! It’s never been a better time to start incorporating more local, seasonal varieties into your diet or even your garden, either way you’re contributing to a healthy local food system and supporting your local farmers.

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Most of this week’s beautiful ingredients.

I’ll have to warn you — this week’s recipe creates a massive amount of compost! No worries, more soil food for us and for you! After making this salad a couple of times, my green bucket was pretty full. In my CSA share, I received some giant dino kale, the most succulent strawberries, daikon, a ton of carrots, and many other goodies. Add some tangerines and heirloom cherry tomatoes to the party, and that completes the perfect spring salad. Spring cultivates superfoods, so we have to think of ways to eat them that do not diminish the nutritional benefits.

I always get a ton of kale, so finding different ways to eat it raw has inspired tangy dressings and mixtures of fruit in kale, collard, or cabbage salads. This is the totally local, seasonal take on a kale & fruit salad made completely with ingredients from the Union Street Farmer’s Market in downtown Gainesville. The quinoa in this recipe is from Ward’s bulk section, which I would highly recommend! Quinoa, kale, strawberries, walnuts, and carrots are all fruits and vegetables with dietary benefits. Strawberries, kale and quinoa have antioxidants, walnuts improve cognitive function, and carrots help your eyes, just to name a few health benefits of eating the rainbow regularly! So consider this your super salad go-to recipe, the Spring Kale Salad with Citrus Dressing.


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Edible flowers are also back in season, these were in our CSA share, still looking lovely.

What you’ll need:                             

1 bunch dino kale (6-8 stems)
1 cup cooked quinoa
3-5 sliced cherry tomatoes
1 chopped carrot
½ chopped bell pepper
½ cup candied walnuts
3-5 sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

Dressing
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. coconut sugar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 Tbsp. yogurt
Salt & pepper to taste

Candied Walnuts
½ cup walnuts
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
2 tsp. butter
Dash of cinnamon
Directions: Heat for five minutes over medium until crisp, stir frequently to prevent burning.

Step 1: Wash all your fruits and vegetables well. Cook quinoa first and allow it to cool before serving with the salad. If you cook quinoa from scratch, rinse it well and toast the quinoa for about five minutes before cooking for the best flavor. Add herbs, or leave it plain.

Step 2: Cut all your veggies, and make some room in your Green Bucket for the incoming gallon of compost you are about to create! Stems, shavings, leaves, skins, seeds, and all. Remove the stems from the kale, slice thin. Chop peppers, carrots small after peeling, quarter tomatoes, slice or chop daikon, and slice strawberries. Add kale to a large salad bowl.

Step 3: Mix the dressing. Add all ingredients except yogurt to a small container. I used fresh squeezed tangerine and lime juice, which really keeps it fresh. Peel and mince the garlic, compost the peeling. Mash the garlic with the side of a knife before adding to the dressing. Mix the dressing well, and add the yogurt, mix well again. Massage dressing into kale for 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the kale, including the quinoa, and top with goat cheese and candied walnuts. If you don’t buy candied nuts at the store, they are very easy to make and taste much better than store bought!

Step 5: Mix the salad any way you want, and enjoy!

To learn more about bike-powered food waste diversion in Gainesville, FL, click here.

Thanks for reading,
Krissy Olson

About the Author

Krissy studies Sustainability in the Built Environment at the University of Florida. Her love for organic gardening and support for local food systems grew through her studies and Community Supported Agriculture. Krissy is the Community Outreach Coordinator at Gainesville Compost.