This very easy salad came together in the heat of that oppressive day we had this week ... the first really hot day of springtime here in New England. The recipe comes from a summer line-up of terrific side dishes posted at a food blog called COOKIE + kate. You can follow Kate's recipe to the letter or do what I did. I used double the spinach, added lemon zest, and slivers of basil in my version.
It was a delicious way of using the first picking of our spinach greens and the basil that I topped out of my plants so that they'd fill out a bit and not bolt to blossoms and seeds. This salad was perfect sitting on the plate beside a pan-seared salmon filet. Add a glass of super chilled Sauvignon blanc and it was a super summery supper. Say THAT three times fast !
The recipe makes a large amount of quinoa mixture - enough for two hungry people to have the salad as a side dish and enough for bowls of the quinoa/tomato/almond mix the next day for easy lunch. An easy way to serve is to plate the amount of spinach you would like and add a serving of quinoa mix over top each serving. Save the rest of the fresh greens for leftover lunch or second servings.
So, about this quinoa mixture! It's nothing more than toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes that come packed in olive oil, slivers of fresh basil, lemon zest, and a zippy lemon and Dijon mustard dressing that gets tossed to coat everything. Drizzling a bit more olive oil and some Kosher salt and black pepper adds the final touch! Healthy and light !
Here's how I did it.
Quinoa and Spinach Salad
1 c. quinoa, rinsed well in a fine mesh strainer
2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted in a frying pan with a tiny pat of butter and a pinch of Kosher salt
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, rolled up and slivered
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 c. fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and spun out, long stems nipped off
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
a generous pinch pf red pepper flakes
3 pinches of Kosher salt and a generous grinding of black pepper
Making the Dish:
1. Bring the rinsed quinoa and water to a gentle boil in a deep saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the quinoa bubble gently for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
2. Remove the quinoa from the heat, cover loosely for a few minutes and then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool a bit more.
3. Add the dressing ingredients to a deep bowl or immersion blender cup and whiz to make a smooth dressing. Correct the seasonings and set the dressing aside.
4. Julienne the sun-dried tomatoes, sliver the basil leaves, and toast the almond slivers.
5. Add the tomatoes, almonds, basil, lemon zest, and dressing to the quinoa and toss to incorporate everything.
6. Place the prepped spinach on a large platter and spoon the quinoa mixture over the top. You can toss the salad lightly or just serve it as is with a drizzling of olive oil and a bit more Kosher salt and black pepper sprinkled over the salad.