So here it is. My new go-to weeknight power meal… Quick, easy, nutritious and delicious. A spinach quinoa salad packed with fresh herbs — parsley, dill and mint — plus original Greek feta, sweet summery cherry tomatoes (just enough to give it a pop of color and flavor), and roasted pine nuts. Take all of that and toss it in a bright flavored sumac and cumin dressing and you have something very delicious. If it weren’t for all the spinach and herbs I would feel totally guilty about scarfing down half a bowl of this salad…all by myself!
A spinach quinoa salad that can also be enjoyed as leftovers
I’m of course always excited when I make a salad that doubles up as a great bring to work lunch the next day (or in my case breakfast). Yes, leftover salads often surface as an alternative to my standard bring-to-work overnight oats breakfast. Yeah, we eat out. And every day. It’s kind of ingrained in our company culture. Social lunches in a group and no anti-social eating at your desk sort of behaviour. And ditching my work buddies for a private lunch? Well, there are some feelings of rejection that surface when you are “dated” a little too often. Sure, I like eating out, but a homemade salad would probably be the healthier option.
Healthy lunch spots in Hamburg
Thank goodness for restaurant coupons and some great choices in the hood. I’m pretty okay with eating at some of my favourite local spots (Hanoi Deli, Hej Papa, Cafe Nasch, Green Lovers, Dean & David and for those pasta or potato with fish moments, a place I call the “Fish-Italiener”). So yes, I admit to really enjoying the leftovers of this salad for breakfast. Apropos, I added some chopped up smoked Lupinen-Tempeh to my leftovers (cause it’s one of those healthy probiotic super foods) – did I love it? Nope, but it wasn’t bad either. I prefer smoked tofu with almonds and sesame. Now that’s tasty!
One-bowl meals are awesome
The great thing about salads with substance is that you can enjoy them as a meal. For me, any salad containing grains or pseudo-grains, beans or lentils would be what I would call a salad with substance. They go so far beyond “rabbit-food”. Of course some are lighter than others, but you can easily pump of the fill-factor by adding some extra protein or carbohydrate rich vegetables — like sweet potatoes, winter squash or root vegetables, or simply serve them with your favourite bread. This time, I chose to make a super simple and healthy salad recipe with my all-time favourite super food pseudo-grain — quinoa. That, loaded with greens, feta, juicy cherry tomatoes and crunchy pine nuts, makes for a light yet satisfying meal for two or side dish for 4 that is both vegetarian and gluten-free. Looking for a side dish? Serve it with a some roasted root vegetables or a bowl of carrot soup. Vegans, feel free to omit the feta and add some kalamata olives or capers for a salty bite.
For the salad:
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (200 g)
2 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves, any hard stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 a small bunch fresh dill, chopped (about 4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
175 g feta, crumbled
1-2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (40 g)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried sumac
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1. Rinse the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place in a medium saucepan and cook according to package instructions, for about 15 minutes. Once most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let stand, covered, for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large salad bowl to cool.
2. Meanwhile, to prepare the dressing: Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, shallot, cumin, sumach, maple syrup, salt, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
3. Drizzle the dressing on top of the quinoa and toss to combine. Add the spinach, parsley, dill, mint and crumbled feta, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts. Toss again, season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve and enjoy!
For mint lovers, feel free to add another tablespoon of mint. I kept it to 1 tablespoon for this recipe since mint has a tendency to dominate in flavor.
Pine nuts are perfect in this salad. However, since they are so expensive, you could try substituting them with lightly toasted slivered almonds. The extra crunch is great with this salad.
For this Spinach Quinoa Salad recipe, I use original greek feta made from 85% sheep’s milk and 15% goat’s milk. Look for the real stuff, it’s labeled with the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) to prove it.