I am so excited to have Ricki Heller here with us today! For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting her site, Ricki blogs over at RickiHeller.com (Formerly Diet, Dessert & Dogs). She is an expert on allergy friendly cooking and an anti-candida diet. (In fact, those of use who are lucky enough to call Ricki a friend often refer to her as Dr. Candida.) I am anxiously waiting to get my hands on her second book, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free, which is just days away from release.
There’s nothing like the end of summer to make me appreciate all the abundant summer produce that’s about to disappear. Of course, I love the fact that nowadays you can buy pretty much any fruit or vegetable you like (either frozen or in the supermarket) all year round, but for most of us, it’s hard to compare to the fresh slurp of a big slice of summer watermelon, the brilliant green skin of locally grown zucchini, or the first zealous bite into a freshly steamed cob of corn.
I feel the same way about fresh blueberries. When we were kids, my sisters and I waited all year for the summer, when we could gorge on the little blue-black berries. I use frozen all year round in my smoothies and baked goods, but there are some recipes where fresh really do work best.
I created this Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad with Fresh Blueberry Vinaigrette as a way to showcase the luscious berries that are stacked high in pint baskets at farmers markets here in the Toronto area right now. Blueberries work remarkably well alongside kale and quinoa, with their plump juicy insides and perfect bitesized proportions.
But don’t despair if fresh berry season has already passed where you are; this salad is equally delicious when made with dried blueberries (or cranberries); and since the dressing is blended, it works with frozen fruit, too. In that case, it will provide you with a brilliantly hued reminder of the lovely summer that’s just around the corner again next year.
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) raw quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 bunch kale (6-8 large leaves), stems removed
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries
- sprinkling of hemp seeds, for garnish
- For the Dressing:
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 large clove garlic, chopped
- Make the salad: Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot; add the quinoa, cover, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 18 minutes; check the quinoa to ensure that all the water has been absorbed. If there is still water in the bottom of the pot, cover and simmer another 5 minutes; check again. Keep checking and cooking until all the water is absorbed, then remove from heat and turn the quinoa into a large bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry the kale. Chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl with the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil and salt. "Massage" with your (clean) hands by kneading and squeezing the kale between your thumb and fingers until it becomes shiny, softer and a shade darker. This will allow the kale to be digested more easily.
- Add the tomatoes, red onion and blueberries to the bowl and toss.
- Make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy (I used a hand-held blender and it worked perfectly). Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Add the cooled quinoa and toss again. Sprinkle with hemp seeds just before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.
About Ricki Heller:
Using only whole foods ingredients, a generous pinch of humor and input from her two chatty canines, Ricki shares gluten-free, allergy-friendly and sugar-free recipes on her blog, rickiheller.com. She is also the author of the bestselling cookbook, Sweet Freedom, one of only three cookbooks recommended by Ellen DeGeneres on her website. Her second cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free, was published on September 12, 2013.
Ricki is also an Associate Editor for Simply Gluten-Free Magazine and has written for Clean Eating magazine, Allergic Living, Living Without, VegNews, Tonic Toronto and many other publications.
Ricki lives near Toronto, Canada with her husband and two dogs.