Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots & Baby Spinach
Quinoa, a delicately flavored grain that was a staple in the ancient Incas’ diet, makes this vegetarian main dish substantial and satisfying. The grain is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and the quality of its protein is roughly equivalent to that of milk. Quinoa cooks quickly, making it perfect for weeknight pilafs and hearty grain salads like this one.
1 cup quinoa (see Ingredient Note)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Moroccan-Spiced Lemon Dressing (see recipe), divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, chopped
8 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Tip)
Toast quinoa in a dry 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it becomes aromatic and begins to crackle, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Add apricots and the quinoa; continue cooking, stirring often, until the quinoa has dried out and turned light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, make Moroccan-Spiced Lemon Dressing.
When the quinoa is ready, transfer it to a medium bowl and toss with 1/3 cup of the dressing. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Just before serving, add tomatoes and onion to the quinoa; toss to coat. Toss spinach with the remaining 1/3 cup dressing in large bowl. Divide the spinach among 4 plates. Mound the quinoa salad on the spinach and sprinkle with almonds.
Tip: To toast nuts: Heat a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
Ingredient Note: Quinoa is available in most natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets. Toasting this grain before simmering enhances its flavor.
Makes 4 servings, about 1 cup each.
Per serving: 323 calories; 10 g total fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 7 g fiber; 215 mg sodium…use a salt substitute to reduce sodium content.