This salad couldn’t come at a better time. I’ve just returned home after a long weekend in Austin, Texas. Taco after taco, margarita after margarita. Chips and salsa in between. On the return home, I ate a scoop of Mexican vanilla ice cream for dinner. It was incredible.
This was a girls’ trip, just for fun, and it was desperately needed. My taste buds got a break from all the cookbook recipe testing and now, I’m craving healthy home cooking once again. Please, remind me to take real vacations more often!
This mega-healthy quinoa and spinach salad was inspired by a Whole Foods buffet salad that I found in Kansas City last week. I was desperate for recipe inspiration, so I sampled a few of their salads and particularly enjoyed their spinach and quinoa salad with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. The sign said the salad had basil in it, but I sure couldn’t find any.
Anyway, I tried to recreate it at home and ended up making a few changes, of course. I swapped more affordable sliced almonds for the pine nuts (they taste better, too), skipped the nonexistent basil, and whipped up a zippy lemon dressing.
This salad packs up great for lunch. It would also make a lovely, protein-rich side salad. Top it with a fried egg and call it dinner. It’s vegan as is, but you could throw in some feta if you’d like. Chickpeas might be nice, too. Arugula is a great alternative to spinach (I could hardly decide between the two).
I’ve been frustrated with my quinoa ending up mushy lately, so I tried cooking the quinoa uncovered for 15 minutes this time, and it worked beautifully. I hope it works just as well for you. Please let me know!
Watch How to Make Perfectly Fluffy Quinoa
Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach and Quinoa Salad
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
This simple spinach quinoa salad is full of fresh Mediterranean flavors, including lemon, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted almonds! It’s vegan and gluten free, too, so it’s a great potluck option. Recipe yields 4 side servings or 2 main dish-sized servings.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
- ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach or arugula
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, which gives it time to fluff up.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
- To toast the almonds: Warm ¼ teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the almonds and a dash of salt and cook, stirring frequently (beware, these burn quickly!), until they are golden and fragrant. Transfer the toasted almonds to a medium-sized serving bowl to cool.
- Once the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and then transfer it into your serving bowl. Drizzle all of the dressing on top and toss to combine. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and wait a few more minutes to add the spinach so it doesn’t wilt completely. Toss again, season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve immediately.
Recipe inspired by a quinoa salad at Whole Foods Market.
Make it nut free: Replace the almonds with pepitas (green pumpkin seeds). Sunflower seeds might be nice, as would pine nuts if you aren’t sensitive to them (they are technically seeds).
Storage suggestions: This quinoa will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for several days. Gently reheat or serve chilled.