Quinoa, Spinach and Garbanzo Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

Quick Meals, Salad, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

This recipe comes to you directly from the July pages of Bon Appetit. My copy had been sitting unopened since we returned from our trip until my sister-in-law, Amy, mentioned this delicious spinach salad to me last week.

I am always looking for simple meal ideas and I really love quinoa, with it’s fun-texture, slightly reminiscent of fig seeds, and earthy flavor that when cooked in some nicely salted water or broth could practically be eaten plain. Of course, as with almost any grain-based salad, you could substitute cous cous, bulgur, or even rice here, if you prefer, or if quinoa is not available where you live.

What is so nice about this salad is that you can prepare all the various parts ahead of time, and throw them together just before you sit down to eat. Cook the quinoa, drain and rinse your chickpeas, chop the cucumber, tomatoes and mint, and even crumble your feta ahead ahead of time. Then when you come home, just tear open that package of prewashed baby spinach, toss everything in a large bowl and dress with vinegar, paprika and oil, and your done. Love that.

Amy served this with salmon, which sounds perfect to me, but you could also hard boil some eggs, make an egg salad, or grill a few veggie burgers to serve alongside it.

Quinoa, Spinach and Garbanzo Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing, Bon Appetit, July 2010

Smoked paprika is an amazing spice that adds a tremendous amount of depth to a dish. You will find it available it ‘sweet’ and ‘hot’ varieties, but I really don’t find that there is too much difference between the two, once all is said and done. If you do not like smokey flavors, this salad is also delicious dressed with just the sherry vinegar and a good-quality olive oil.

1 1/2 cups quinoa (9 to 10 ounces), rinsed, drained (do not skip the rinsing, quinoa has bitter outer coating that must be rinsed off)

4 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves

2 15- to 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained

1 3/4 cups 1/3-inch cubes unpeeled English hothouse cucumber

1 1-pint container multicolored baby heirloom tomatoes, halved (2 1/2 cups)

1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves (sounds like a lot, but it’s a BIG salad)

1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces), divided (I used a DELICIOUS sheep’s milk feta, but you can leave this out all together to make the salad vegan)

1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

Place quinoa in large saucepan; add enough salted water to cover quinoa by 1 inch. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, 15 to 16 minutes. Drain. Chill until cool.

Meanwhile, combine spinach leaves, garbanzos, cubed cucumber, halved tomatoes, mint leaves, and half of feta cheese in extra-large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.

Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining feta over.

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