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