Recipe: Dennis Dean’s Chopped Kale Salad with Quinoa, Cherries, and Toasted Pecans

Recipe for chicken from Dennis Dean catering

We make no apologies about our love of outdoor entertaining. It’s what summer’s all about, and no matter the size of your space or the weather forecast, getting together with friends and enjoying the great outdoors is what summer is all about. Which is why we want to give you a hand with your entertaining game. We asked Atlanta caterer and seasoned entertainer Dennis Dean to share a few of his favorite recipes with us.

The colors in this dish blew us away! Who doesn’t want a colorful plate during the summer months? And this one is packed with flavor and texture too.

Recipe: Chopped Kale Salad with Quinoa, Cherries, and Toasted Pecans
Serves: 2 large, 4 small
  • 1 Bunch Dinosaur or Lacinato Kale, Chopped Fine
  • 1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
  • ¼ Cup Sliced Almonds, Toasted
  • ⅓ Cup Dried Cherries
  • ¼ Cup Toasted Pecans
  • 2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Small Shallot, Minced
  • Juice of 1 Lemon, Add More to Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Chiffonade of Italian Fresh Parsley
  1. Start by making your dressing. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside while you prepare your kale. (This will soften the shallots and allow the flavors to mingle).
  2. The first thing you need to do is remove the ribs from your kale. Don’t panic, there is a very simple way to do this. Start by tearing away about an inch on each side of the kale’s stalk to form “flaps.” Now grab the bottom of the stalk with one hand and pull up with the other hand. The entire kale leaf should come right off. Magic!
  3. Pile the kale leaves on top of each other and roll them up like a giant cigar. Thinly slice the kale, and then chop it finely. Place your chopped kale to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the kale and use your hands to mix the salad (this is known as “massaging the kale” in fancy culinary speak), making sure that every leaf is well coated. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale becomes very wilted.
  5. While your kale is wilting, toast the almonds. Place the sliced almonds in a pan (with no oil!) and toast for 3-4 minutes until they are golden brown and fragrant.
  6. Add the quinoa, along with half of the Pecan and Dried Cherries to your wilted kale and toss to combine.
  7. Transfer your salad to a serving platter or plates, top with the remaining pecans and cherries, and sprinkle with Parmesan and a chiffonade of fresh Italian parsley.


Learn more about Dennis Dean, or find more recipes on How to Decorate.

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Dennis Dean

Dennis Dean opened its doors in 2001 just weeks before 9/11. With the economy at a standstill, Dean’s drive and determination mirrored that of a nation determined to succeed. Along with his business partner, Chef Sally Rueda, Dean launched the company with no support staff and a small list of loyal clients cultivated during his tenure as director of sales at a local catering company. Working out of a small rented kitchen at a local restaurant, Dean and Rueda quickly developed a reputation for stellar food and exquisite presentation. In the first year of business, sales exceed $500K and Dennis Dean secured a coveted spot on the Atlanta Business Chronicle “Book of Lists” as one of the top 20 caterers in Atlanta.


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    September 1, 2017

    I made this salad for a summer luncheon and it was a huge hit! Fresh, tangy, colorful and delicious. That Dennis Dean is a genius!!