The timing of this salad is perfect. After spending a long weekend in Austin, Texas, I just got back home. Following each other, tacos and margaritas. Salsa and chips are interspersed. I had a scoop of Mexican vanilla ice cream for dinner on the way home. It was amazing.
It was imperative that the girls take this vacation together, simply for enjoyment. After taking a vacation from all the cookbook recipe testing, my taste senses are suddenly yearning wholesome home cuisine once more. Please remind me to go on vacation more frequently.
I got the idea for this super-healthy quinoa and spinach salad from a salad I discovered at a Whole Foods buffet in Kansas City last week. I tried a number of their salads because I was in need of recipe ideas, and I especially liked the spinach and quinoa salad with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. Although the salad was supposed to contain basil, I was unable to locate any.
Anyway, I attempted to replicate it at home and, of course, changed a few things. I skipped the nonexistent basil and mixed up a zesty lemon dressing instead of using the more expensive pine nuts (they taste better, though).
The salad travels well for lunch. It would also make a nice side salad that’s packed with protein. Add a fried egg on top, and call it dinner. Even though it is vegan as is, you are welcome to add extra feta if you wish. Chickpeas could also be tasty. As an excellent substitute for spinach (I could hardly decide between the two).
I tried cooking the quinoa uncovered for 15 minutes this time because I’ve been frustrated with how mushy my quinoa has been lately, and it worked well. I hope it works for you just as well. Please inform me!
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
- ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach or arugula
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, which gives it time to fluff up.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
- To toast the almonds: Warm ¼ teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the almonds and a dash of salt and cook, stirring frequently (beware, these burn quickly!), until they are golden and fragrant. Transfer the toasted almonds to a medium-sized serving bowl to cool.
- Once the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and then transfer it into your serving bowl. Drizzle all of the dressing on top and toss to combine. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and wait a few more minutes to add the spinach so it doesn’t wilt completely. Toss again, season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve immediately.