Table of Contents
  1. Do you want an easy salad full of autumnal flavor?
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other salad recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Apple Cider Quinoa Kale Salad Recipe

What’s great about this quinoa kale salad cooked with apple cider is that it’s perfect served either warm or cold. With a super easy process and autumnal flavors, this salad can either star as the main dish or settle in flawlessly as a side. So whether you have a warm or cold fall, this salad is the one to make!

Do you want an easy salad full of autumnal flavor?

I do not always make a traditional meal. The idea of needing separate meat, potato, and vegetables still holds true, but meals can also be all in one bowl. I love something that can be a complete meal but is mixed all together.

This starts with quinoa, which is cooked in apple cider. The cider is used in place of water and works to sweeten and flavor the quinoa. Chicken breasts are set on top of the quinoa while cooking to make the work easy with less clean-up. The chicken poaches in the cider and any juice helps add even more flavor. Once cooked, the chicken is shredded, and the kale is stirred into the warm quinoa. The residual warmth softens the kale and removes the bitterness.

Once softened, apples, pepitas, feta cheese, and dressing is mixed in. The result is a meal in one bowl packed with autumnal flavors. It’s completely filling!

Stoneware bowl sitting on marble surface filled with quinoa kale salad topped with shredded chicken, pieces of apple, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and feta cheese.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Apple cider is a unique way to cook quinoa and chicken. Use 100% apple cider with no added sugar. The natural cider flavor provides a slightly sweet finish to the meal.
  • Quinoa is a great way to add protein and healthy fats. Quinoa is a seed and cooks into a rice-like texture. I choose tri-color quinoa for added color.
  • Chicken breasts are a staple. The breasts are poached with quinoa and cider. Any residual flavors from the chicken go into the quinoa.
  • Kale is a green superfood. I choose lacinato kale for the large crinkled leaves. Sometimes the leaves can tend to be bitter, allowing them to soften in the quinoa removes the bitterness and tough texture.
Marble surface filled with all the ingredients needed to make a quinoa kale salad including chicken breast, apple cider, apple, kale, quinoa, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Cook the quinoa and chicken. In a kettle on the stove, heat the apple cider. Once the liquid is boiling, pour in the quinoa and mix into the apple cider. Separately, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Then nestle the breasts into the quinoa and apple cider mixture, allowing them to poach in the liquid. Place on the lid of the kettle to trap in the steam. When the chicken reaches 160°F, remove them from the liquid.
  1. Prepare the kale. Remove the ribs from the kale, roll it into a bunch, and slice it into slivers. When the liquid is mostly absorbed into the quinoa, add in the chopped kale and allow it to wilt.
  1. Prepare the salad dressing. Combine Dijon mustard, minced garlic, minced shallot, salt, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Mix all ingredients together until the dressing is emulsified and homogenous.
  1. Prepare the chicken and apple. Once the chicken has rested, take two forks and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Additionally, chop up the apple into diced cubes.
  2. Assemble the salad. To the quinoa and kale mixture, add the shredded chicken, chopped apple, and salad dressing. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. To serve, pour the salad into a bowl and top with any favorite toppings. Roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and feta work great.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • There are two main ways to soften kale so that it is a bit more palatable. First, chopping up kale works to tenderize it by separating the cell walls. Second, heating it in liquid introduces moisture to kale, which works to soften further and wilt it.
  • Once the kale has been added to the quinoa, you’ll know that it is done when it is wilted and has turned a dark green color. Before kale is cooked, it has a light green, almost powdery texture. But once cooked, the kale will darken drastically and become soft.
  • Before shredding the chicken, make sure to let the meat rest. When working with any type of meat, it’s important to let it rest before cutting into it. This resting time will allow the juices that were loosened during cooking to redistribute, so they do not leak out as much when sliced.
Stoneware bowl filled with quinoa kale salad topped with pumpkin seeds, chopped apple, shredded chicken, and more.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Does apple cider have to be used for cooking the quinoa?

No, water can be used instead. The cider does add flavor, but the meal is still possible without it.

Can a different type of green be used in place of kale?

Yes, spinach or Swiss chard can be substituted for the kale. Any green can work in the recipe but may not need as much time to soften, so adjust accordingly.

Would any type of meat work in this recipe instead of chicken?

Yes, other meats can be used. Fish would be a great option. The amount of time different types of meat take to poach will vary and the cooking time will need to be adjusted.

Can this recipe be made ahead as lunches for the week? How long will it last if made in advance?

Yes. This recipe is great for leftovers and can be served warm or cold. Once made, keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Watch how to make this recipe.

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your dessert table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they too can make, enjoy, and love!

Large stoneware bowl filled with apple cider kale salad topped with pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, and cranberries all on white surface.

Apple Cider Quinoa Kale Salad

5 from 10 votes
What’s great about this quinoa kale salad cooked with apple cider is that it’s perfect served either warm or cold. With a super easy process and autumnal flavors, this salad can either star as the main dish or settle in flawlessly as a side. So whether you have a warm or cold fall, this salad is the one to make!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale (about 2 cups, chopped)
  • 1 apple
  • cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

For the dressing

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • cup olive oil

Instructions
 

  • In a 4-quart kettle, bring the apple cider to a boil. Add the quinoa. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and place them on top of the quinoa. Return the apple cider to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer. Simmer until the quinoa is tender and the chicken breasts reach 160°F, about 20 minutes.
    2 cups apple cider, 1 cup quinoa, 2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb), ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the kale by removing the stems and chopping the leaves.
    1 bunch kale (about 2 cups, chopped)
  • Once the chicken and quinoa are finished, turn off the heat. Remove the chicken and set it aside. Add the kale to the quinoa and cover with a lid to soften the kale, 3-5 minutes.
  • In a small jar or bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, garlic, shallot, salt, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Shake or whisk to combine.
    2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp minced shallot, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the softened kale and quinoa. Add the diced apple and dressing, and toss to combine. Before serving top with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and feta cheese.
    1 apple, ⅓ cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional), ⅓ cup dried cranberries (optional), ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Notes

  • There are two main ways to soften kale so that it is a bit more palatable. First, chopping up kale works to tenderize it by separating the cell walls. Second, heating it in liquid introduces moisture to kale, which works to soften further and wilt it.
  • Once the kale has been added to the quinoa, you’ll know that it is done when it is wilted and has turned a dark green color. Before kale is cooked, it has a light green, almost powdery texture. But once cooked, the kale will darken drastically and become soft.
  • Before shredding the chicken, make sure to let the meat rest. When working with any type of meat, it’s important to let it rest before cutting into it. This resting time will allow the juices that were loosened during cooking to redistribute, so they do not leak out as much when sliced.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 674kcal
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this salad in the fall. I used spinach and prepped it Sunday night for the week and I’ve looked forward to lunch all week! Highly recommend.

  2. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and it was a great combination of flavors. I will definitely be making this again.