This quinoa salad features nutrient-packed spinach, luscious strawberries, fresh basil, tangy goat cheese and toasted almonds- it’s a celebration of color, flavor, and texture!
Now that the holiday season is behind us, you may be looking for an easy, healthy dish to start the New Year off on the right foot. My Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Strawberries and Goat Cheese is a light, refreshing dish that’s easy to prepare and it’s really good for you too.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since I first posted about quinoa on my site. Back then, quinoa was an up and coming food that hardly anyone had heard of. Now, quinoa is the “it” food and you can find it everywhere from local grocery stores to restaurant menus. Why is quinoa so popular? It’s because it’s extremely versatile, easy to cook and oh yeah, it also just happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.
|Traditional and Red Quinoa|
Although quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is considered a whole grain, botanically it’s actually a plant with edible leaves that are closely related to beets, spinach, and Swiss chard. However, it is primarily grown for its edible seeds. Although this grain-like crop has only become very popular in this country in recent years, it originated in South America over five thousand years ago. It was so central to the ancient Incan culture that it was referred to as the Mother Grain.
It has many unique qualities and health benefits such as:
-It has a very high protein content (about twice the protein of regular cereal grains), which makes it a great source of protein for vegetarians
-It is the only grain that is a complete protein, meaning that it contains a balanced set of all nine essential amino acids
-It is gluten-free and easy to digest which makes it a nice option for people who are gluten-intolerant
-It is a good source of dietary fiber
-It is a good source of several B Vitamins, Vitamin E, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (I used red quinoa)
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
- ⅔ cup sliced strawberries
- 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 ½ tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan along with 2 cups water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the quinoa about 15 minutes until cooked. Remove the lid and cook another 2-3 minutes until all of the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, make the balsamic dressing. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and honey together in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the olive oil while you continue to whisk. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
- Place the quinoa in a salad bowl along with the spinach, basil, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds. Add the dressing and toss to combine all ingredients well. Serve the salad alone or if desired, topped with slices of grilled chicken breast.
To read more about quinoa, CLICK HERE.
To see the recipe for my Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers, CLICK HERE.