Spinach and Quinoa Salad

25 Feb

Guys. Why didn’t anyone tell me about quinoa? I know that I had heard vague things about it, seen it on menus here and there, but I was obviously not paying enough attention.

When I go to the grocery store, I have a bad habit of just strolling around the aisles, looking at all the stuff they have. This leads to impluse buying, but I just like to see all the different foods out there! This week, I strolled by the bulk bins and on a whim, decided to get a small bag of quinoa. I vaguely remembered hearing of people putting quinoa on salads, and I had some spinach leftover from my lasagna, so it seemed like a good idea.

I got home and had to google “how to prepare quinoa” because I had no idea. But my search led me to several articles about how great quinoa is for you. Now, I love a food that tastes like a carb but secretly is great for me. That just makes my day.

Did you know:

1. Quinoa is actually a seed. And it’s not part of the grass family, so it isn’t a grain, it’s a “pseudo-cereal.” I like pseudo-anything. Okay, so actually I just like using the prefix “pseudo.” So pseu me. (See what I did there?)

2. It’s one of the few plants that offers you a complete set of amino acids, so it is a great source of protein for non-meat eaters (or very occasional meat eaters, like me).

3. It’s high in fiber. I love fiber. It makes my world go round.

4. It’s gluten free, if that’s a problem for you. And easy to digest! Yay!

5. It’s a great souce of iron, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. I’m sure those things are important, right?

You can expect to see quinoa popping up in recipes around these parts with more frequency now that my love affair with it has been allowed to blossom. I hear it makes a great breakfast (and the fiber will help you stay full throughout the morning!).

Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Serves 1

For salad:
¼ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup water
1-2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2-3 tbsp crumbled goat cheese

If not using pre-rinsed quinoa, place in a fine-mesh strainer and run under cold water for a minute or two to wash away the saponin (or else the quinoa will taste bitter). Add rinsed quinoa and ½ cup of water to a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until water is absorbed (10-15 minutes). You want it to still have a little “bite” to it, like al dente pasta.

While your quinoa is cooking, go ahead and throw the goat cheese and cranberries onto the spinach, and you can mix up a homemade vinaigrette (or use a dressing you have in your fridge). My standard balsamic vinaigrette recipe is below, and I think it works well with my standard carb/fruit/cheese combo in salads.
When quinoa is finished cooking, just spoon it on top of the spinach salad, dress with vinaigrette, and enjoy!

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp honey
pinch salt
pinch fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine. So easy. This is why I don’t ever buy salad dressing at the store.

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4 Responses to “Spinach and Quinoa Salad”

  1. gmomj February 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Quinoa is so versatile!
    This salad looks fresh and appetizing.
    Have to try it.
    My rule of thumb for dressing a salad is

    S.O.A.P.

    S~alt
    O~il
    A~cid
    P~epper

    Always works!

  2. Musketnuss @ I really take the cake February 26, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Today I saw baby spinach in the store and I thought for a long time before I put it away again – But this would have been so perfect. 😦 Oh nooo. Next time.

    It looks totally great and yummy, thanks for the recipe!

    (But, I’m really sorry for being a bit smart-alecky, it’s psEUdo.)

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