I was craving fresh and healthy today after indulging in the Double-Glazed Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cake. Thought you might be too, so I put together this Lemon Quinoa Salad. We had it for lunch yesterday and loved it. I'm happy that there's another meal stashed away in the fridge. I'm thinking of serving it with some grilled chicken for dinner. It's so easy to throw together, can be made in advance*, making it perfect for a quick weekday lunches.
Super healthy quinoa (known as a super grain and one of the healthiest foods on the planet) is combined with a lemony vinaigrette, baby spinach, fresh basil, oregano and mint, crumbled Feta, and topped with a shower of toasted buttered almonds. I like to scatter it with some tiny fresh herb leaves; a lovely sight and delightful taste treat!
The technique for preparing the quinoa is a bit different that most as it calls for rinsing and then toasting the grain before it's cooked. I look this way of preparing it as it yields a fluffy, non-soggy finished product. We thought we didn't like quinoa until I discovered this method. Now we LOVE it!
A Lemon Quinoa Salad would be perfect for a Spring brunch. lunch or get together of any kind. Just be sure to make plenty; it will go disappear right before your eyes. Oh, and make some copies of the recipe. You'll be sure to get requests!
- 2 cups quinoa uncooked
- 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoons butter
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon finely zested
- 1 teaspoon sea salt more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper more to taste
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup crumbled Feta
- ¼ cup fresh basil finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons fresh mint leaves finely chopped
Cover quinoa with cold water and swish with your hand for 30 seconds. Drain in a fine strainer and allow to drain for 15-20 minutes, gently shaking strainer every 5 minutes to remove as much water as possible.
Place chicken stock in a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave until boiling, about 3-4 minutes.
Heat a medium-large pan over medium heat for several minutes. Add drained quinoa and toast, stirring constantly, until all liquid is removed and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, about 2-3 minutes.
Add hot chicken broth to quinoa and bring to a boil. Cover, leaving lid slightly vented to allow steam to escape. Reduce heat to low (maintain just a slight simmer) and cook for 14-16 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, uncovered for 10 minutes while preparing rest of ingredients, then fluff with a fork.
While quinoa is resting, add butter and olive oil to a small sauté pan. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbly, then add almonds and a pinch of salt. Stir gently but frequently for 2-3 minutes or until almonds begin to turn golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle in olive oil whisking with a fork or small whisk. Set aside.
Place baby spinach in the bottom of a large bowl. Add hot quinoa and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes to wilt spinach.
Add fresh herbs and Feta, then drizzle with olive oil mixture Stir gently to combine. Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper, if needed. Top with toasted almonds and garnish with small herb leaves, if desired.
*This salad can be made in advance. It makes wonderful leftovers. If you want it to be really beautiful for company, I would make it all in advance, but add the fresh herbs just before serving.