• Suzanne Yearley

A Win on Many Levels...Autumn Kale Bowl with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

October 25, 2018

Suzanne Yearley

I couldn’t resist having a little fun and creating a meal built around these popular “healthy” ingredients. (See the discussion in the quesadilla post if you have no idea to what I refer.) I like to eat this way too. In fact, salmon is among my favorite foods, as is mustard, and the kale and cabbage are stand-ins for another go to, broccoli. The touch of sweetness provided by the maple syrup and cranberries is the perfect balance for the zing of the cider vinegar. The quinoa, creaminess of the avocado, and crunch of the pepitas create interesting texture and leave me feeling quite satisfied.  Finally, the varied colors create an attractive dish. 

While not the quickest of dishes, a little advance preparation makes a meal on the fly possible and provides lots of good leftovers for inspiration. Pre-shredded cabbage and carrots are certainly a time-saver, as are making the spice rub, quinoa, and vinaigrette ahead. Finally, pre-washed, baby kale works but as someone who doesn’t like the gritty stems in my salad, the extra work required to wash, shred, and dry the kale is worth it for me. I will leave it to you. Regardless of how you proceed, I hope you will find this dish a win on many levels.

Happy Fall!

Secrets to Success:

  • Shredding the kale before washing it makes it much easier to deal with.

  • Make sure the kale is very dry before proceeding with the recipe. 

  • Washing the kale at least a few hours in advance and refrigerating it, wrapped, jelly-roll-style, in paper towel helps.

  • Whether using baby kale or chopped, do not skip the massage. Kale is hearty green and needs to be tenderized before eating in a salad.

  • To prevent the blackening spices from burning, pay careful attention to the timing of salmon and don’t forget to turn down the heat when it goes in the pan.

  • Cooked quinoa keeps up to 4-days in the refrigerator.

  • As vinegars always differ in acidity, always taste your vinaigrette, adding more oil or flavorings as necessary.

Autumn Kale Bowl with Blackened Salmon and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette


For the Maple Mustard Vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, preferably Braggs, 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

For the Blackening Spices:

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

¾ teaspoon paprika 

1 teaspoon cumin 

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar 

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the Bowls:

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces, washed and dried-well

1 cup shredded red cabbage

½ cup grated carrots

4 6-oz pieces salmon filet, skin-removed

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

1-2 cups cooked quinoa or grain of choice

1 avocado, cut into chunks

1/3 cup dried cranberries or pomegranite seeds

½ cup walnuts, toasted


For the vinaigrette: In a medium jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake together all of the dressing ingredients except the oil. Add the oil gradually, shaking well between each addition, until the dressing is emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste and reserve until ready to serve.

The dressing keeps for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, but is best to serve for the first time, with in one day. 

For the spices:Whisk together the spices until well-combined. Set aside until ready to serve.

The spices keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 monthes.

For the bowls: When ready to serve, Preheat the oven to 350^F. Put kale in a large bowl.  Stir in the cabbage and carrots. Drizzle with some of the dressing and sprinkle with salt.   Massage the mixture with your hands so that it is well-coated and the kale is beginning to wilt and darken, 1-2 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.

Season the flesh-side of each piece of salmon with 1½ teaspoons of the spice mixture. Heat a cast iron skillet dry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the oil, continue to heat for 30 seconds more and then add the salmon, spice-side down, and immediately lower the heat to medium. Cook the salmon for one minute and without flipping it over, place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon and desired degree of doneness. 

While the salmon is cooking, season the kale mixture to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper and divide it between four bowls or plates.  Sprinkle with the quinoa, walnuts, cranberries or pomegranate seeds, if using, and the diced avocado. Top each bowl with a piece of the salmon, drizzle with some additional vinaigrette, and serve more dressing on the side.

Serves 4.









make ahead





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