Tastes Like Spring

Last week at this time, we were thawing out from a large snow storm that engulfed the Seattle area. Fast-forward a week and it feels like spring. The past two days have been brilliantly sunny and nearing the upper 50s. As soon as we start to see weather like this, my body begins to ache for the transformation from winter to spring, and meals that fall into suit. This particular recipe was the perfect fit for these past few spring-like days.

I was introduced to this recipe from a friend in my weekly community group. Every Wednesday evening from October to June, my husband and I gather with 8-14 friends (depending on the week) and a couple kids at someone’s home. We enjoy dinner, conversation, and fellowship together. Since I love cooking and preparing food for others, I volunteer to cook for the group most weeks. We gather at 6:30 pm, though, it tends to be more like 6:40 pm or so before we actually pack up dinner and drive over. Once everyone arrives, we make our way to the large dining room table where we break bread together, listen to each others’ stories, and linger until the conversation winds down. We then make our way into the living room where we gather for another forty-five minutes. Dessert is sometimes served toward end of the night, often a cookie or bar of some sort. As it reaches 8:30 pm, families slowly begin to pack up and make their way home as another Wednesday evening winds down. I always look forward to this weekly routine, as I often feel re-energized afterward and ready to face the rest of the week ahead.

I encountered this particular dish during one of these community group gatherings last spring. We were hosting a potluck at our house and each couple brought a side dish. I can’t recall the main course that evening, but this salad stood out. It was the perfect dish for the time of year and included seasonal, fresh vegetables. Upon first bite, this salad was hearty, delicious and full of healthy, feel-good ingredients. I immediately tried replicating the salad and have since modified the recipe. It’s a good one to have in your repertoire and serves as a dependable side dish for any potluck. Let’s hope spring hurries up and gets here soon.
Spring Quinoa Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Modified from 101 Cookbooks
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons ripe avocado
1 teaspoon honey
fresh pepper to taste
2 bunches curly kale, destemmed, torn into pieces                                                                          1 – 1- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
3-4 multi-colored carrots, cut in ribbons using a vegetable peeler
1 small bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup sliced almonds
 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
Make the dressing using a food processor or blender. (I’d recommend doubling it depending on the quantity of quinoa you use). Combine all ingredients until smooth. (As a short cut, I usually whisk the dressing by hand in the bottom of a large bowl and then add the kale).
Massage the dressing into the kale until it starts to soften and is evenly coated. Add the quinoa, carrots, fennel, salt to taste, and toss. Then add the avocado and almonds, and toss gently one last time. Garnish with green onions and serve.
Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days. This salad is particularly flavorful the following day.

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