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!
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.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the kale by removing the stems and chopping the leaves.
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.
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.
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.