Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad (Gluten-free)

So, about today’s recipe. When we were in California last fall, we had lunch at a place in Sausalito called The Trident. I had their Kale & Quinoa Salad minus the cheese and it was amazing. I was craving it when we got back, so I attempted my own version.

Since then I’ve made it several times and it has evolved into one of my favorites. I’ve made it for others as well, and the reviews are always great. So, grab some kale, let’s get started.

Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free
Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free
Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free

One of the many things I love about our new home is the butcher block island. Teamed with the sweet set of Wüsthof knives hubs gave me for Christmas, I am inspired to chop, chop, chop. Speaking of which, I can’t stress enough how important it is to FINELY CHOP the kale in this salad.

Makes all the difference. It will seem like there is a disproportionate ratio of kale to dressing, but as you massage the dressing into the kale, it will begin to soften and reduce in volume. Finely chopping and massaging the kale not only makes it easier to digest, but more desirable to eat.

If you coarsely chop the kale and merely stir in the dressing, I have my doubts that you’ll enjoy this salad.

Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free
Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free

The sweet burst of red grapes combined with creamy avocado dressing and savory pecan crumbles makes for a winning flavor combo. The quinoa adds even more texture, and of course, protein. If you want to reduce the calories and fat, skip the pecan crumbles; sprinkle the salad with salt and nutritional yeast instead.

Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free
Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad Gluten-free

This salad will keep for a day or two in the fridge, but beyond that, it loses its appeal. The kale gets a little funky, things dry up, it’s not pretty. If you want to make enough for just one or two people, I suggest cutting the recipe in half.

Now that life is settling back down a bit, I’ll try to post more often. HI’m hopingto get inspired by all of the vegan eats around here! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this healthy, raw, vegan, gluten-free salad. (Updated 4/2/17)

Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad (Gluten-free)

Recipe Type: salad, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten-free, American
Author: Livvy @ 86 Lemons
Serves: (6) 1 cup servings


  • 2 bunches kale, de-stemmed and VERY finely chopped (about 5-6 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups halved seedless red grapes
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. (Start cooking the quinoa if you haven’t done so yet.)
  2. Wash and spin dry the greens.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the kale and cilantro. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor or mini chopper, add pecans, olive oil, nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt. Process until finely to coarsely ground. Set aside. (This is kind of like a decadent parmesan.)
  5. In a food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour dressing over kale mixture. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale for a minute or two until kale is soft and well-coated.
  6. Gently stir the grapes, quinoa and pecan mixture into the salad and enjoy.


*It’s really important to take the time to very finely chop the kale and massage the dressing into the kale. Skip these two steps and you might not enjoy this salad.

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8 thoughts on “Vegan Chopped Kale & Quinoa Salad (Gluten-free)”

    • Hi Karolina. Thank you for pointing that out! When I was developing this recipe, I often put the cilantro in the dressing instead of mixing it in with the kale. But you can certainly add the cilantro to the dressing instead.

  1. Delicious! Just made this salad minus the pecan/nutritional yeast mix and mustard, and used lemon instead of lime (dad to work with the ingredients I had).. but I still loved it!! It was so yummy I had my mom try it and she loved it! It’s been hard for me trying to figure out what to eat as a new vegan. This recipe is SO good that I will be making it again and probably often. Thank you :) Also, lucky you to live in an area with lots of organic and vegan options!


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