Mexican(ish) Kale & Quinoa Salad

It’s daunting to complete a cookbook, or any significant project, really. The names of various ground spices and Oxford commas were bouncing around in my head a few nights ago after I stayed up too late looking for any last-minute concerns.

I finally awoke from a dream in which I skateboarded all the way to my parents’ house while lying on my stomach. When I arrived, the chocolate cake had been devoured by my family. Dad!

I genuinely went over the book one last time last night to make sure all of my suggestions had been carried out. I mailed it back with great trepidation, apprehension, and self-doubt racing through my head. Did I take too many photos of dogs? Will readers take this book seriously? It has a lot of color. Are the recipes listed in the correct order?

I want to retake that margarita photograph from last year because the ice cube is out of focus. Too late now. On page 197, the tiny clock icon isn’t exactly where it should be. I’m sure they can repair that component. (Update: It has been corrected.) Send wine or aid. I’m going crazy right now.

Also read: Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad

I have, at least, recently been eating better. For lunch, I’ve just finished the last of this salad. Since I prepared my quinoa and chickpea salad with herbs, the idea has been circling in my head. This is the Mexican version I was desiring because it was so amazing. Kind of.

Because it’s not tomato season anymore and because sun-dried tomatoes have a stronger flavor, I used them. Because raw red onions frequently overshadow other flavors, I used green onions instead of red ones.

For some rescuing greens, I added kale; however, if you’d prefer, you may use spinach. Since I never seem to be able to obtain Cotija, I substituted feta for the real thing.

The remaining ingredients—black beans, pepitas, cilantro, jalapenos, lime, and cumin—are typical Mexican fare. It’s a fantastic salad that is ideal for resetting after fatty holidays. I hope you enjoy it.



  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 small bunch of curly green or Tuscan kale, tough ribs removed and chopped into small pieces (or about 3 cups roughly chopped baby spinach)
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions or finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 to 2 medium jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, chopped

Cumin-lime dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 medium limes)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, which gives it time to fluff up.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pepitas in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and making little popping noises, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place the chopped kale in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with salt and massage it with your hands by scrunching up large handfuls at a time until it’s darker and more fragrant (this makes the kale more tasty and easier to eat). Add the cooked quinoa, toasted pepitas, drained beans, onions, cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes, feta (if using), and jalapeño(s). Set aside.
  4. To prepare the dressing, combine the olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lime juice, the cumin and salt in a cup or jar. Whisk until blended. Pour all of the dressing over the salad and stir until the salad is evenly coated. Taste, and add another tablespoon of lime juice (I like this salad to be pretty zippy) and/or more salt, if necessary. For best flavor, let the salad rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  5. This salad keeps well, covered and chilled, for about 3 days. You might want to wake up leftovers with an extra squeeze of lime juice and a dash of salt.