Liven up your grain salad bowls with a punchy, smoky, ginger-tahini dressing and some rather interesting add ins – gorgeous dried golden berries, roasted eggplant and, um, the ubiquitous but awesome kale. A perfect phytonutrient-rich salad for now – and tomorrow’s lunch. Naturally vegan and gluten-free. Add roasted or boiled chickpeas, lentils or nuts to up the protein count.
**If you are reading this on the website Easy Low Cal Recipes, this is without my permission and against my expressed wishes.**
Tomorrow I have the pleasure of starting a new class at the cancer support centre where I work. And I am really looking forward to it. I love the planning and the shopping for new cooking and teaching opportunities, as well as donning my apron and actually practising what I am going to be preaching.
The best job in the world: I lead nutrition workshops, as well as contribute to the teaching on another course, and see individuals too. But what I do a lot of is cook: three-course lunches every week for my own groups, as well as post-cancer treatment support groups. Because the group participants change every few weeks, I could legit get away with making the same things week in and week out. But frankly I would go out of my brain with boredom making the same recipes, with only the changing seasons offering creative respite. I quite admire restaurant chefs who can manage to cook a barely rotating menu day in and day out. It would drive me insane.
To keep my sanity in check and satisfy my hyperactive brain, alongside about 10 rotating soupy staples that I can do with my eyes shut, I make different salads and cakes. To be honest they aren’t all winners, and like my late grandmother I have a bad habit of slating my food before anyone has had a chance to try it (“Oh, it’s not seasoned enough”; “I had to make this last night so the texture isn’t quite as it should be,” etc). Luckily everyone is always very kind and appreciative, and I in turn appreciate their enthusiasm for what is often a completely different eating experience.
My schtick is to reassure everyone that what I serve them is perhaps an idealised version of – and my own personal take on – healthy eating. We aren’t expecting anyone to go home and make two or three salads, a soup, fruit plate, healthy dip and dessert for their own lunch. We just want to showcase the taste, beauty and nutritional advantages of “eating in colour” – which incidentally was going to be the name of this blog and why I started blogging in the first place.
So, about the new class. A lovely group of ladies on a recent post-cancer treatment support course found that although they now felt pretty clued up about eating well after cancer, they were a bit overwhelmed. Enthusiastic about the benefits and possibilities that come from making positive lifestyle changes, but understandably nervous about putting it all into practice. As you can imagine, once someone has finished cancer treatment it is a bit scary to be “on your own”. It is even more daunting if one’s cancer is managed rather than cured. The post-treatment course is even titled, “Where Now?“. Part of my job is translating the burgeoning science on food and cancer into layman’s terms, but a big part is bringing it to life with plant-centred dishes – nutritious, balanced, colourful and seasonal. These enthusiastic foodies decided that they wanted to cook with me, and be shown how to keep their lunches from being boring and samey.
Dinner is often – weirdly – the easier meal. We expect to take time over its preparation – or more so than lunch. With lunch we feel it should be a grab and go. It can be nearly grab and go (and if you are doing school lunchboxes and going out to work it really must be), but as healthy eating doesn’t happen by accident, planning is key. So, tomorrow evening at 6.30, six of us will gather in the light-filled, sleek kitchen, with newly purchased cutting boards and sharp knives, to do some serious planning, chopping, mixing, blending and cooking. But also a lot of laughing. Not much in life is certain, but six hungry women in a kitchen, a pile of fresh food to be cooked, and an enthusiasm for life pretty much guarantees a good time. I just hope I remember to bring the sea salt…
By the way this ISN’T one of the recipes we are making, but it is one that I have served recently as a way of showing how to make an interesting whole grain-based salad. We ARE making my Caponata (never mind the 4-year old images) and my recent (and with better images!) Halloumi and Freekeh Rainbow Bowl. I will soon be sharing a recipe that is debuting at tomorrow’s class. Check out my Instagram to find out what it is. Hint: healthy nachos. 🙂
Look out for more summery salads, just in time for the leaves to start dropping! Well, it is only just become summer in Scotland…
Kale, Eggplant and Goldenberry Grain Salad with Ginger-Tahini Dressing
Liven up your grain salad bowls with a punchy, smokey ginger-tahini dressing and some rather interesting add ins – gorgeous dried golden berries*, roasted eggplant and, um, the ubiquitous but awesome kale. A perfect phytonutrient-rich salad for now – and tomorrow’s – lunch. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, too. Add roasted or boiled chickpeas, lentils, roast chicken or nuts to up the protein count.
1 small aubergine/eggplant, diced
1 & 1/2 tsp olive oil
125g cooked quinoa, brown basmati rice (shown; with wild rice too), buckwheat or other grain/pseudo-grain, warm (i.e. keep warm in a covered bowl)
100g kale, ribs removed and cut into ribbons
50g dried goldenberries, barberries, cranberries or sour cherries – no added sugar if at all possible
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
Juice of half a lemon (more on hand if needed)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Sorrel leaves and snipped chives, optional
1. Heat the oven to 180C/350. Take half of the oil and toss with the aubergine pieces in a shallow wide bowl. Lay on a baking tray and roast until lightly golden – about 18-20 minutes.
2. In the same bowl massage the kale ribbons with the remaining oil until softened. It will shrink in volume a bit. Add this to a serving bowl along with the quinoa and dried berries of choice.
3. In a jug or small steep-sided bowl, use a small whisk or fork to mix the tahini, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, gradually adding the hot water to thin. Stir in the ginger, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. If it doesn’t seem loose enough for a pourable dressing, slake with a little more lemon juice and water.
4. When the aubergines are done, stir them into the salad, pour over the dressing and toss well with your hands or two large forks. Sprinkle over fresh sorrel leaves and snipped chives, if using. Serve.
* Dried golden berries are another name for dried physallis/Cape gooseberries – you know, the little fruits that look like paper lanterns. They are packed with iron, fibre and potassium. I love them! In the UK find them at Whole Foods, Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and Costco.
Need more protein? Add toasted nuts, cooked chickpeas or lentils. Leftover roasted chicken would be a good option for non-vegetarians.
PS I’m lucky enough to have space to grow a few edibles in my garden, including three varieties of kale. I used tender Cavolo Nero (black kale/dinosaur kale/lacinto/Tuscan kale) in this recipe, and it was soft enough not to de-rib nor massage. Here is a pic of how it stands up to winter frost. Not bad for January kale, is it?
A Selection of Grain and Pseudo Grain Salad Recipes from Food To Glow
Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Easy Homemade Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”
Greens and Grain Salad with Sorrel and Sunflower Pesto
Honey-Miso Roasted Broccoli and Whole Grains Salad
Roasted Citrus, Olives, Freekeh and Romaine Salad
Mango and Quinoa Salad with Lentils and Coconut
Tomato and Skillet Roasted Corn Salad
And some from my favourite bloggers!
Quinoa, Watercress, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Asparagus
Warm Tenderstem and Samphire Bulgur Salad
Sprouted Red Jasmine Rice Salad with Pomegranate, Feta, Pine Nuts and Herbs
Dark Cherry and Strawberry Quinoa Salad
Roasted Broccoli and Spelt Salad with Smoky Cilantro Chutney
Kale and Quinoa Salad with Smoked Feta
Zesty Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad
Kasza and Lentil Salad with Griddled Courgette and Halloumi
***Keep In Touch!***
You can also find me on:
Instagram – behind the scenes with my recipe development (triumphs and tragedies!) and mini, quick and easy Instagram-only recipes;
Twitter – tweeting on health, nutrition and global news, as well as sharing other bloggers’ content;
Facebook – posting on the latest nutrition and food stories, as well as sharing recipe links;
Pinterest – loads of boards on food, travel, food writing, blogging, health and novel ingredients;
Huffington Post – writing bespoke recipes and opinion pieces on my own Huff Post blog
20 thoughts on “Kale, Eggplant and Golden Berry Grain Salad + The Best Job In The World”
Wow, you’re a busy lady but this all must be such fulfilling work Kelly. I love hearing about how much you love what you do. I wish we lived closer so we could compare notes on meal ideas. And this salad, um yes please! Everything I absolutely love in one bowl! Just returned from the US where I always stock up on golden berries. I know where they’ll be going next. 😉
I love this post!! Your photos are so vibrant!! And I am honestly craving this right now so cannot wait to make it!! 💞
Kellie, This salad looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the ideas for using kale. Looking forward to tomorrow evening’s class.
Lovely post Kellie, and delicious recipe! Golden berries are the best! think we are both so fortunate to to do what we love for a living 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing my Sprouted Red Jasmine Rice Salad! I have a cooking class with a client who down enjoy cooking this week & we are making this salad-I hope he loves it as much as I do 🙂
I think the work you do is wonderful, and I’m sure all of your students love tasting your food, and come away inspired by what you create and your enthusiasm for it. You provide ideas and direction and vital support xx
And of course, the salad looks great 😀😀
Bravo to you Kellie. You really inspire me and I’m sure your group too. Hadn’t heard of golden berries – will seek these out.
It’s so interesting to hear a little more about your professional work Kellie – a truly inspiring job marrying nutrition with food (we share the same dream!) I vary my menus a lot too, even through I know I make my life harder I just can’t bear too much repetition. This recipe is gorgeous – a great example of a versatile grain veggie bowl!
Ginger and tahinki sounds lovely. Your job sounds super rewarding too 🙂
A perfect summer salad Kellie! I hope all goes well today, I’m sure you’ll all have lots of fun. Thank you so much for featuring our cherry and quinoa salad.
I’ve learnt something new again! (your blog is good for that 🙂 Ive never heard of dried golden berries before, I shall look out for them now, thank you!
Wow! This looks incredibly tasty! I always get so inspired scrolling through your recipes! Thanks for sharing <3
Thank you for another wonderful recipe. I almost wish you would post something that would NOT sending me running to the kitchen to replicate asap! Also, keep up the great work; I’m sure it’s very fulfilling work 🙂
Thanks for sharing the green eating habits *sighs. I should start to incoporate so much of this in my diet. 🙂
Leading nutrition workshops sound like so much fun! Congratulations on your amazing job 🙂 this salad also looks fabulous! I’d love to make it!
Thank you so much for your full dissertation of what you do. Have been reading your blog forever, but was unclear until now. I am sure your students are so appreciative of your guidance. – Kat
Sorry I was so mysterious before but I didn’t want to shout too loudly about it while i was trying so hard to resolve it. They may pop back up and do the same, but I think I’m ready for them now that I have already gone through Google with success. Thank you for your support. I really appreciate it, Kat. 🙂