Dinner Tonight: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Cream Spinach

I'm definitely warming up to the idea of quinoa, even though I tend to be suspicious of uber-healthy foods when they first become popular. But it seems like everyone has been talking about this high-protein grain. It's also one of the easiest things to cook and, especially in the summertime, makes a superb light dinner that can be served warm or at room temperature.

While it's easy to just throw vegetables into a bowl of quinoa indiscriminately, this one from Patricia Wells's new book Salad as a Meal is special. To make the quinoa a little nuttier (and more delicious), you can toast it in a dry skillet first until it starts to pop and become fragrant. Wells' recipe treats each element of the salad with care, like using a separate dressing for the spinach. It adds such a bright richness, you'll forget you're eating "health food."

Dinner Tonight: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Cream Spinach

About This Recipe

Active time:15
Total time:40


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste (depending on the saltiness of the broth)
  • 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 scallions, white part only, cut into thin rings
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach, cut into chiffonade
  • 1 cup light cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh chives
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. 1

    Bring stock to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Meanwhile, in a large dry skillet, toast quinoa over medium heat until it begins to pop and becomes aromatic. Add quinoa to stock along with bay leaves and salt, bring back to a boil, then simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, 20-30 minutes.

  2. 2

    In the meantime, combine parsley, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a small food processor. Process until parsley is finely chopped.

  3. 3

    Combine remaining lemon juice with light cream, chives, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and toss with the spinach in a large serving bowl.

  4. 4

    Toss cooked quinoa with the parsley vinaigrette and scallions. Toss gently with the spinach and serve.


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