This is a tasty recipe that I recently stumbled upon that is just what one needs to help meet those daily grain and veggie servings that our bodies crave for good heath. This simple spinach and quinoa salad is packed full of protein from the quinoa and vitamins K, A, and E and minerals such as magnesium and calcium from the dark, leafy greens of the spinach. But, let’s not leave out the the key reasons I’m posting this salad recipe: it’s delicious and only requires a handful of ingredients.
Because the recipe calls for soaking the quinoa for a hour, there is plenty of time to do the quick prep work with the remaining ingredients and be ready to go. This salad provides either four main-dish servings or eight side-dish servings. Try it both ways!
1 and 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups vegetable stock
3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (you’ll need a medium to large lemon)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried and chopped
2 medium to large shallots
We’ll start with the quinoa first. You should have no problem finding quinoa in the rice and grains section of your grocery store.
Measure out 1 and 1/2 cups of the quinoa and…
…pour into a small bowl and cover with water.
Put the bowl aside and let it sit for a hour uncovered.
Ok, so while the quinoa is soaking, there’s plenty of time to prep a couple of the other ingredients. Let’s take care of the juice that we’ll need to squeeze from your lemon. A medium-size lemon should easily give your the 3 Tbs. you need. if you have extra juice, you can always sprinkle it over the salad when you’re finished preparing it.
Cut your lemon in half and use a citrus juicer, or hold a lemon half fruit side up in the palm of your hand and squeeze over the container you’re using (this mostly prevents seeds from slipping in) and repeat with other half.
Set aside the lemon juice. Let’s focus on the spinach.
Give the spinach a thorough rinsing.
Now, to drying the spinach before chopping it. You can certainly use a salad spinner, but that only gets so much water out. I have some success using paper towels.I place the washed spinach on several paper towels:
Then I place another couple of paper towels on top of the spinach and press down to absorb a bit of the moisture.
And then I roll up the spinach in the paper towels and press down to squeeze out more moisture.
And, we end up with pretty dry spinach (after you chop it and let it sit out for a few minutes, any remaining moisture will be gone).
This would be the time to cut off any stems from the spinach leaves if you so wish. They don’t bother me but you can stack those leaves with large stems and with one cut remove the stems.
Now, we need to chop the spinach. Take a sharp knife and just cut away, into bite size pieces. Alternative is to tear the pieces with your hands.
Set aside the spinach. Lets move on to the shallots. The shallots work well in this salad because they are a mild and slightly sweet type of onion without the sharper bite of yellow or red onions and they have a nice crunch to them.
Before you chop the shallots, they need to be peeled. I found the easiest way to peel onions, whether smaller like shallots or larger like red onions, is to nearly cut off both ends without totally removing them.
This makes it so easy to start from the cut part and pull off the skin fairly quickly from one end to the other. If you lose a layer of onion in the process, it’s no big deal.
Chop your shallots into small pieces and set aside for later.
This brings us back to one of our star ingredients: remember the quinoa? Pour the quinoa that’s been soaking for the last hour into a strainer. Don’t be upset if you lose a grain or two in the process. There will still be more than enough left for the recipe.
Time to rinse the quinoa; yeah, I know, seems silly since its been soaking but it will remove any residual stuff. Give the quinoa a thorough rinsing in your strainer in the kitchen sink and let sit for a bit, while we get our vegetable stock taken care of.
Now for the vegetable stock. Try to find a low-sodium stock.
Measure out three cups of the vegetable stock and pour into a medium-sized pot.
Turn the heat up to medium high, bringing the vegetable broth to a boil and then add in the quinoa.
Bring the broth and quinoa back up to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes util the broth has been absorbed entirely.
If you’re like me, and can never find the right-sized lid in your cabinets for the pot you’re using, take a decent-sized plate and cover the pot leaving a space for the steam to vent. It works perfectly fine, but use an oven mitt when moving the plate to check on the progress of the quinoa because it will be hot.
Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes. The timing is about right but never hurts to check the progress after about 10 or 12 minutes in to make sure you’re not going to burn the quinoa or have it be dried out. The quinoa should be moist enough that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan with no remaining liquid.
At this point, we’re just going to introduce the rest of the ingredients into the quinoa, starting with the lemon juice from earlier. Add in the 3 Tbs. of fresh lemon juice into the pot.
Next is the olive oil. You’ll be needing 2 Tbs. of extra-virgin olive oil.
Important tip: It’s ok to use your run-of-the-mill olive oil when you’re cooking or sauteing things, but when you’er adding in olive oil to a salad or using it for dipping, you want a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil so that its wonderful taste is what you remember. I am fortunate enough to have recently purchased Palestinian olive oil from my childhood friend Maad, whose Daily Hugz organization takes in abused animals and provides them with sanctuary and loving care while providing an environment for Palestinian children with special needs to interact with the animals (http://www.dailyhugz.org/). Not only is his charity phenomenal but so is his olive oil, which is why I love to use it in this salad recipe.
The recipe at this point calls for 1/4 tsp. of sea salt and pepper to taste.
Give those added ingredients a good stir in with the quinoa. Next up is to introduce the chopped spinach and shallots into the mix.
Stir in the spinach and shallots so that they are evenly distributed into the quinoa salad.
All that’s left to do is plate this beautiful and delicious salad. You can serve it immediately or at room temperature.
For four main-dish servings:
Per serving: Cal: 304; Total Fat: 10 g. (Sat Fat: 1.4 g); Chol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 176 mg.; Pro: 10 g.; Carb: 43 g.
For eight side-dish servings:
Per serving: Cal: 152; Total Fat: 5 g. (Sat Fat: 0.7 g.); Chol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 88 mg.; Pro: 5 g.; Carb: 22 g.