This dish is based on the ingredients in spanakopita, the very rich and tasty Greek pie made from layers of phyllo dough and butter, stuffed with cheese, spinach, and herbs, and full of dairy, processed wheat, and fat. A lighter, fresher way to enjoy those flavors, this salad is made with gluten-free quinoa and lots of fresh herbs and veggies.
For those of you with dietary restrictions or aversions, this is an incredibly flexible recipe. Vegans and dairy-free eaters can omit the feta and add some kalamata olives for a salty bite. I know there are mint-haters out there, so feel free to leave that out. And for those of you who would rather not use pine nuts, I have also used sliced almonds or roasted pistachios before with success. This Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Dill is the perfect lunch or light dinner on its own, but I have also served this with dozens of different sides including roasted carrots and beets, grilled zucchini, or sautéed green beans with shallots. Can you say “Spring It On?!”
This delicious quinoa recipe was contributed by Pamela Salzman. Pamela is a certified holistic health counselor and a natural foods cooking instructor based in Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and three children. She shares great healthful, family-friendly recipes and nutrition tips on her website www.pamelasalzman.com.
Yields: 6 servings | Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 294.7 | Total Fat: 23.1 g | Saturated Fats: 4.9 g | Poly Unsat: 3.9g | Monosat: 2.1g | Cholesterol: 12 mg | Sodium: 577 mg | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Dietary fiber: 3.1 g | Sugars: .6 g | Protein: 10 g | SmartPoints: 9
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, RINSED (see Step 1)
- Sea salt
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced or 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (3 ounces)
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces feta, preferably made from goat or sheep’s milk
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste.
1) Rinse quinoa in a bowl with water or place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Drain and transfer to a medium saucepan with a pinch of sea salt and 1 ¾ cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Quinoa can remain in the pot until ready to combine with other salad ingredients or transfer to a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Allow quinoa to cool slightly.
2) To the quinoa add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. * Or you can place the spinach on a serving platter and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Combine quinoa with remaining ingredients and mound on top of the spinach leaves. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes: other additions can include Kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and/or fresh corn kernels.