Quinoa is fun to say (KEEN-wah… I like to sing it) and it’s definitely having a moment, due to being delicious *and* high in amino acids and protein. I make this salad at least once a week for a quick and scrumptious dinner for two. If you make the quinoa and vinaigrette ahead (or buy pre-made), you can throw this together in a few minutes – no big deal. It’s still pretty fast even if you make everything from scratch (quinoa takes about 20 minutes). If your quinoa is still warm, you can still put it right into the salad and you’ll have a nice wilted spinach effect, if you like that sort of thing (if you don’t, just wait for it to cool).
SPINACH, QUINOA, FETA, AND CRANBERRY SALAD
5 oz baby spinach
12 oz (1 ½ cups) cooked quinoa (see note on quinoa)
8 oz feta, crumbled or cubed into ½” dice
1/3 -1/2 cup dried cranberries
Freshly ground pepper
Approx. ½ c vinaigrette, or to taste (see note on vinaigrette)
Equipment: Extra-large salad bowl
Add spinach, quinoa, feta, and dried cranberries to extra-large salad bowl. Add a few grinds of fresh pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over to taste and toss. Taste for seasoning, and add more freshly ground pepper if needed (you probably won’t need to add any salt due to the salty feta). That’s it! Enjoy!
If you want to make this heartier, you could add cubed or sliced grilled chicken or shrimp. For vegetarian additional heartiness, you could add a couple of sliced hard-cooked eggs, fanned prettily over each serving.
Not a fan of dried cranberries? You could try toasted nuts instead (…or in addition… ) such as walnuts, sliced almonds, pecans, or pine nuts. Raisins or chopped dried apricots would be a great substitute as well.
Note about vinaigrette:
I make my own, but you can use your favorite store-bought vinaigrette if you like.
Want to make your own too? Awesome! Here’s my recipe.
Note about quinoa:
I thought it would be harder to make quinoa than it actually is. If you can boil water and you’ve got a timer, you can do it. The trick is you have to rinse it properly first to remove its naturally-occurring bitter coating. I put it in a sieve, run water over it, and rub the grains with my fingertips. Otherwise just follow the instructions on your package, or go here for excellent quinoa-making instructions from TheKitchn.com.
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