You always hear about secret recipes – the ones that are passed down in families, and no one but family members are allowed to know the details. My grandmother accidentally acquired a cookie recipe like this back in the 60s from a little girl who gave the recipe over the phone while her mother was out of the house, and the mother called my grandmother and scolded her for taking a super-secret family recipe! This recipe should be like that. It should be some epic secret salad that is so delicious, but no one but me knows the secret of how it’s made. But in the day and age of the internet, I actually discovered this recipe online. I took it to a family event and everyone raved. And I promptly started giving the recipe away, because people kept asking (to date I’ve shared it a half dozen times). It’s that good.
It also makes for the perfect lunch – a two cup reusable container holds the perfect amount of salad to be filling without leaving you needing more. Unless you are like me and insatiable. A double recipe leaves you set for lunches for the week, or feeds a crowd.
The making of it also results in my favorite mid-cooking snack – goat cheese fingers. Nom nom nom! I mean, someone’s got to crumble that goat cheese, and if it sticks to your fingers afterwards, it would be an awful waste to wash it all off.
Basically, it’s an easy recipe that’s fairly healthy and is delicious. All the component parts fit perfectly together – the cheese is smooth and creamy, the spinach has a nice crunch, the quinoa gives a lovely texture, the dressing has a tangy bite, and the pine nuts round out the entire thing. It’s basically the best, and I have to restrain myself from making it all the time. I’m always confused at the original post with the recipe which doesn’t seem to have quite as much quinoa in it as the recipe calls for, and the yields I get seem to be a little different (maybe it’s just semantics?) but … whatever. I love it the way that I make it. And I think you will too.
Spinach & Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese
Yield: 6 side portions or 3 main course portions
For the salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped (half a bag or clam shell)
4 oz goat cheese (about 1/3 of a log)
For the dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 Tbsp spicy brown or dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Cook quinoa in water according to package directions.
Spread the cooked quinoa on a plate or other shallow dish and refrigerate until completely cool, stirring once or twice if you’re in a hurry.
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts ~2 minutes and then shake the pan and heat for another minute.
Transfer to a small plate and let cool.
In a large bowl, add the chopped spinach, cold quinoa (it must be cold so it doesn’t wilt the spinach), crumbled goat cheese, and cooled pine nuts.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, and mustard.
Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking and add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Before serving, toss the dressing with the salad and serve.
Leftovers will keep a few days covered in the fridge.
From: “Spinach & Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese” from The Brewer & The Baker