Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Working Girl's Lunch: Kale Quinoa Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

I'm not quite sure where I live anymore. Let's see... there are Starbuck's on every corner (first clue!), lots of Hunter rain boots (getting warmer!) and tons of rain showers to go with them (Great Scott, I've got it!). I'm gonna guess Seattle?!?

Nope! Still New York! 

Apparently, this fair city of mine has angered the weather gods.

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It's been a rainy mess of a June. This poses problems for my lunch break, which I prefer to enjoy outside in Central Park. See, when it's nice, I can bring my own lunch and enjoy it on the lawn. But when it's pouring sheets outside, I'm forced to either (1) eat my homemade lunch at my desk, (2) try to sneak my homemade lunch into a sit-down restaurant and hope that the management doesn't realize my food doesn't match theirs, or (3) give up altogether and buy an overpriced $12 lunch just so I can sit indoors like a respectable paying customer.

Today, in a desperate attempt to channel sunny summer days, I am going to risk it and make a homemade lunch! Don't fail me now, Mother Nature!

I don't know about you, but salads are my jam in the summer. I body craves them, and they're SO easy to make at home and transport on the subway to work. But we all know salads aren't the most filling dish on the planet. But there's a solution! Quinoa! 

Adding quinoa to your salad gives it an amazing dose of plant-based protein, and the fiber content of quinoa will keep you feeling full longer! Problem solved! 

Now if I could only solve the problem of Seattle-esque weather in New York City!

Ready for The Working Girl's Lunch? A beautiful combination of kale, quinoa and pesto vinaigrette? Let's get started!

Cook 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions.
Slice a handful of cherry tomatoes in half (I used somewhere between 12-15).
Chop 1 bunch of scallions.
Wash and remove the stems from 1 head of lacinto kale (or whatever type of kale you have!)...
...then slice the leaves into slender slivers (the smaller the better! I should have made them thinner... whoops!).
Put the kale in a large mixing bowl, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and drizzle with a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil - just enough to coat the leaves.
Now for the messy part! Massage the kale for 2-3 minutes until the leaves become a dark, green color.
Add the tomatoes, scallions and cooked quinoa in...
...along with 1 can of organic garbanzo beans (aka. chickpeas). If you're not a chickpea fan, use less. This is YOUR salad!
Now grab the dressing ingredients - pesto, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.
This is the tricky part because it's hard to say exact measurements! I used about 4 Tbs. pesto, enough olive oil to make my dressing into the consistency I liked and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Then I sprinkled in sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 
Now add as much dressing as you desire, mix well to coat and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. If you're eating your salad the next day, I recommend pouring the dressing on it right before you eat it so it's more fresh!
Pack that lunch up and haul it proudly to work with you!
And now that you've made your lunch, here's to hoping the weather cooperates!

Umbrellas be damned!!

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