Spinach and Pear Quinoa Salad

A friend/co-worker shared a few quinoa recipes with me earlier this week, and was very excited about one in particular that she made for dinner and her husband actually ate it.  And came back for more.  This is a guy who doesn’t eat vegetables unless you put them in a curry.  And if the vegetables are orange, forget it.  No way will he eat it.  *Sigh*  So much exciting food he misses out on…it makes me grateful that Hubby will eat almost anything I cook.  And he is in turn grateful that I like to cook and feed him healthy foods, and healthy foods that taste good so he doesn’t even realize that he’s getting important nutrients and all that nonsense.

This recipe comes from The Gluten-Free Goddess, and (of course) I adapted it slightly from its original form.  I was quite pleased with this recipe.  It is light enough that you don’t feel all weighted down after eating it, but dense enough to be satisfying even though it’s a salad.   It’s a little on the sweet side, so it also pairs very well with a Marinated Portabello Mushroom Burger.  And probably a glass of red wine, which I totally forgot about pouring with my dinner.  Shame on me!

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Spinach and Pear Quinoa Salad (adapted from The Gluten-Free Goddess)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

pinch of salt

1 handful (about 2/3 cup) of pecan pieces, toasted

2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, rinsed and dried

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 yellow pear, diced

1 red pear, diced

Vinaigrette:

4 tablespoons blood orange olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons maple syrup

salt, to taste

Prepare the quinoa by combining the quinoa, water, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.  *NOTE: I just happened to have blood orange olive oil and white balsamic vinegar on hand, but if you do not, plain olive oil and regular balsamic vinegar will work just fine.  If you can find these specialty oils and vinegars, though, I highly recommend them. 

Combine the spinach, pears, chickpeas, and pecans in a large bowl.  Add the quinoa, even if it is still warm.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently with a large spoon.  It is good served warm.  This recipe also called for 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, which I did not have.  I almost added some dried parsley, but sort of forgot and sort of decided against it.  It was really good and flavorful with it, but next time I make it if I have fresh parsley I will probably use some.

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