Quinoa and I have not always been friends. I much prefer rice and pasta over the hyped-up grain even though I know people love it. And what’s not to love: it’s gluten-free, packed with fiber and protein and it’s even Passover-friendly.
And since it’s that time of year when everyone is eating lighter, and colorful vegetables and fruits abound, I decided to give it another chance and added some hearty red quinoa to a salad recently. Lo and behold, I became a quinoa convert, adding it to salad after salad. I served a spinach and quinoa salad with fresh local strawberries earlier this summer for a Shabbat dinner with friends, and it was devoured.
Then again when I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I made this salad with figs instead of berries, and it was equally delicious. Try it with plums, peaches or any seasonal fruit that you love.
This week puts us in “the nine days” leading up to Tisha B’Av, a time of year when many Jews are seeking out satisfying, meat-free dinner options. You can even serve it with some grilled salmon, tofu or cannellini beans for a hearty and healthy entrée salad.
Berry Spinach Quinoa Salad
1 bag pre-washed fresh spinach
3/4 cup cooked red quinoa
1/2 seedless English cucumber
1 pint strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or a mix
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place in spinach in a large bowl or on a platter. Top with quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, berries (or other fruit), sunflower seeds and feta cheese if desired.
Whisk together lemon juice and zest, Dijon and honey. Slowly whisk olive oil until dressing comes togethrt.PP
Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.