I’ve mentioned before that recreating meals I eat at restaurants isn’t really my thing. There happen to be a few exceptions to this rule: If the meal is uber healthy; if it’s so delicious I find myself dreaming about it (true story); or if I can’t get it where I live. If it satisfies all of those conditions? Well, then I’ve got to find a way to recreate it in my own kitchen.
Simply put, this meal had to happen.
While visiting L.A. earlier this month I wanted to try some of their super crunchy raw/vegan places. (Yes, this is my idea of fun.) Fortunately, my dear friend Katie was more than game for fulfilling this mission and she had just the place in mind: Cafe Gratitude. We went there for lunch my very first day and to put it lightly it blew my mind. (And not just because we saw four celebs.) Cafe Gratitude is so completely awesome and yet entirely absurd. Why don’t we start with the names of the menu options? I ordered a drink called I am Gorgeous–a blend of lemon, kale juice, agave, and sparkling water. When the server brought it to the table he told me I was gorgeous. Sketchy? Nah. If I had ordered the I Am Rejuvenated, I Am Divine, or I Am Cool he would have told me I was all of those things, too. (Some days I like to think that he’d be right.)
For lunch I was fortified. And by that I mean I ordered a bowl of sauteed zucchini, kale, and quinoa, topped with a garlic-tahini sauce, a.k.a. I Am Fortified. Again: Mind. Blown. The ingredients were so darn simple, and yet the sum of the parts was so incredibly delicious and filling. Before I took my very first bite I already knew that this was something I’d have to make at home.
Since zucchini isn’t in season in Chicago in February, I decided to sub in roasted broccoli and cauliflower. (If the cauliflower looks highlighter yellow that’s because it is–I added a sprinkle of turmeric for an additional healthy kick and that’s what happened.)
Instead of regular quinoa, I picked up a bag of tricolor–a blend of red, black, and golden quinoa–from Trader Joe’s. As you know, I have a well-established obsession with kale. While I usually buy it by the bunch, I grabbed a container of the pre-cut kind from Whole Foods since I knew I was going to have a hectic week ahead of me. I also got to use my brand-new steamer basket (how have I lived this long without one?) for the first time to steam the kale.
Let’s talk about the dressing shall we? Now, if I had a nickel for every time I said “this salad needs some hummus dressing” I’d be a very poor woman. But after making this recipe I realized that I should have been saying that for years. So absolutely delicious! In truth, the dressing was pretty much an accident. I found a recipe for lemon tahini dressing online and attempted to make it. I followed the recipe with a few tweaks, tasted it, decided I nailed it, and then decided it needed something else: Chickpeas. So I added a can of drained/rinsed chickpeas and blended everything together. The result: A dressing that’s ever so slightly thinner than typical hummus (though the perfect creamy consistency) and with a few different flavors than regular ol’ hummus (such as a hint of dried oregano and the umami goodness of Bragg’s Aminos.) Once incorporated into the salad, the hummus dressing becomes almost as much a part of the meal as the broccoli and other components. So. Freaking. Good. And so satisfying, too. You could even say I was fortified.
Quinoa-Kale-Roasted Veggie Salad with Hummus Dressing
Serves: A LOT (about 6 to 8 meals in total)
Quinoa-Kale-Roasted Veggie Salad
2 stalks broccoli
1 head cauliflower
8 oz package kale (or about 2-3 bunches)
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp turmeric
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Rinse broccoli and cauliflower. Remove stems and cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Place on two separate baking sheets (one for broccoli one for cauliflower.) Drizzle olive oil on both. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both. To the cauliflower add 1 tsp turmeric. Toss to coat evenly. Place baking sheets in oven. Roast until broccoli and cauliflower begin to brown (about 20 minutes for broccoli and 25 minutes for cauliflower.)
Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Fill a big pot with several inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place steamer basket filled with kale into pot. Cover and cook until kale wilts–about 2 to 3 minutes. (You may need to do this in a few batches.) Remove steamer basket from pot, remove kale from basket to a bowl, and toss with a sprinkle of salt.
Hummus Dressing (makes about 1.5 cups)
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Juice of 2 lemons
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or use soy sauce instead)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Add additional water or olive oil if you want a thinner texture.
To assemble: Place all ingredients in a bowl and use tongs to combine.