~ An easy, vibrantly delicious salad featuring kale, blueberries, dried cranberries, walnuts and feta. Perfect with freekeh or quinoa. Loaded with healthy superfoods, yet so good no one will even notice that they’re eating something this incredibly healthy! ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegetarian •
At least as far as we’re concerned, this is actually called “Celebration Salad.”
High-Five, Attaboy, You-Rocked-It-Out (or At-Least-Survived-It) Salad.
It’s a lot of pressure to put on a salad, we know. But this one is totally loaded with powerhouse, nutritious goodies, so we figure it can handle the pressure.
Ok. But exactly why, you ask, is it “Celebration Salad”?
Fair question. It’s not totally obvious. Well, except that this freekeh salad is so colorful that it pretty much looks like a celebration in a bowl. And, actually, it’s a happy riot of delicious flavors – a celebration for your taste buds, too.
But the real reason?
This salad was there to help us celebrate after our first public speaking gig (*egads*).
We’d been invited by a local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International to speak on the topic of helping picky eaters become less … well, picky. We’d prepped meticulously, outlining the presentation and making lots of samples for the ladies to try (from Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins to Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins, plus three kinds of Snack Bites).
We also wrote our entire series of related posts on parenting picky eaters and helping kiddos eat more nutritiously. It was a big project for us, as newbie bloggers.
Plus, there’s the simple fact that public speaking can be a teensy bit nerve-racking (which obviously necessitates celebrating after you’ve survived it!).
But, by the time we wrapped up our presentation that day and considered how we should celebrate, we were smack-dab at lunchtime, middle of the week, with kiddos arriving home for after-school activities in just a few short hours … and we still had a lot of work to do that afternoon!
So much for celebrating with a champagne-and-cake extravaganza!
Instead, we grabbed some lunch as we drove past our local gourmet grocery store (a splurge!). When you’re a mom, sometimes that just has to count as a celebration, you know?
We spent the rest of the afternoon happily working and planning together, munching on salads from our market’s amazing section of prepared foods. And we’re gonna bet you can guess which salad was the stand-out. Yep – the kale and berry salad, with a whole rainbow of fruits and veggies, highlighted by a lightly sweet yet tangy vinaigrette.
It was delicious.
And so healthy! Bonus!
This recipe is our take on that beautiful (celebration!) kale salad. Sure, there are some twists … we tailored it to be perfectly, exactly how we wanted it and how our families loved it (even kiddos – no joke!).
One stroke of brilliance was that, thanks to the awesome folks at Freekehlicious (who kindly sent us some samples of their products), we’ve been playing around a lot with freekeh. And wow … although the original salad had quinoa in it, a true moment of inspiration was when this kale salad met up with freekeh. Chewy, nutty freekeh is a fabulous counterpoint to the other flavors and textures!
We also chopped our kale more finely than in the original, made a couple tiny ingredient swaps, and then absolutely loaded in the other goodies, too – from crunchy walnuts, celery, carrots and yellow peppers … to sweet blueberries and dried cranberries … to the salty hint of feta.
The result is a vibrant, chopped confetti salad (kinda like our Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad, but with a totally different flavor profile). And, ya know – confetti is perfect for celebrating!
The good news is that you don’t have to go find a podium or prepare any speaking notes. Nope – no public speaking is required at all (you’re relieved … we know)!
You just need a knife for a bit of chopping and a whisk for the vinaigrette … and you’ll be enjoying the celebration for days (yeah – it keeps nicely in the fridge)!
Ok … so getting back to the freekeh. Are you a little curious? You’re not alone!
Freekeh is another of the ancient grains (like quinoa, farro, kamut …) that has exploded onto the healthy eating scene in recent months. It’s loaded with nutrition … and utterly delicious in this kale salad! (For more freekeh deets, be sure to check out our post about What is Freekeh? And How Do You Cook Freekeh?)
No worries, though, if you can’t find freekeh or just don’t have any on hand. Don’t stress! This is THK, so you know we’ve got options for you!
We also tested this salad with quinoa (which is how the gourmet grocery store makes their version), and can totally recommend it as a great substitute. In fact, we couldn’t get our taste-testers to agree on whether they liked this kale salad better with freekeh or with quinoa – honestly, it’s fantastic either way!
(Quinoa side note: if you’re new to quinoa but excited to give it a try, we’ve got an informational post about How to Cook Quinoa that’s full of nutrition info, too. And for those of you who’re already dedicated quinoa lovers: be sure to check out our full list of ALL our Tried-and-True Healthy, Easy Quinoa Recipes!)
But rest assured – whether you make this with freekeh or with quinoa, you’ll have loads of unbelievable nutrition packed into each mouthwatering bite!
No doubt, this is one celebration you won’t feel even a tiny bit guilty about!
So go find a reason to celebrate … and party on, friends!
Looking for More Salads Filled with Hearty Grains? Check Out Our:
- Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
- Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
- Citrus Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
- Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup uncooked freekeh (or quinoa, see note)
- 3 1/2 cups finely chopped kale, tough stems removed (from about 3/4 pound kale)
- 2 cups dried cranberries
- 1 cup finely chopped carrots (see note)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (about 6 ounces)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow pepper (from 1 small pepper)
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1/3 cup finely chopped celery (from about 1 stalk)
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Cook freekeh (or quinoa) according to package directions and allow to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine freekeh (or quinoa) and all other salad ingredients and mix well.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine. Pour vinaigrette dressing over salad and stir thoroughly so dressing evenly coats all salad components.
- Serve immediately or chill, covered, until serving.
Freekeh: When using freekeh for this recipe, we generally choose cracked freekeh, which cooks much more quickly than whole freekeh. Both work fine, but cracked freekeh is simply faster to prepare. Cracked freekeh cooks in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the brand (roughly the same amount of time as quinoa), whereas whole freekeh requires about 45 minutes.
Carrots: To save time, we usually purchase matchstick carrots and finely chop them. Simply line the matchsticks up so they're mostly facing the same direction and chop them into tiny cubes. About 1½ cups of matchstick carrots will yield 1 cup once finely chopped. You can, of course, also begin with regular, whole carrots instead.
Make-Ahead: You can cook the freekeh (or quinoa) a day or two ahead and refrigerate the cooked grains until you're ready to finish assembling the salad. Once completed, this salad refrigerates beautifully for several days.
Yield: This recipe makes a large salad – perfect for sharing at parties or for refrigerating to eat throughout the week. You can easily make a smaller batch, though – simply halve all the ingredients.