Quinoa is an amazing grain, in that it’s filling, full of protein, fiber and is gluten-free. My vegetarian friends LOVE this grain, but I think too many people are afraid to try it. You can use quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) just like rice. It’s less finicky than rice so I think it’s easier to cook with. If it’s your first time buying quinoa, I suggest buying the traditional quinoa rather than the red. The traditional white/tan quinoa has a slight but very mild nutty taste, while the red is a little more harsh and bitter. If you already bought red, try mixing red with white to underwhelm the red. I’ve never tried black because I stick with the tradtional.
This warm salad is a nice, easy salad to make with what you have in your kitchen already. The bite of the asiago cheese brings a nice flavor contrast to the quinoa. The spinach, tomato and red pepper bring some nutrients and color, while the walnuts add to the protein and Omega 3’s and give it a nice crunch. A light, warming salad on a summer day. Ahhhh.
- 1 cup dried quinoa
- 2 cups chicken broth (or broth of your choice)
- 1/2 cup chopped in small cubed Asiago cheese (use 1 full cup if you omit the chicken)
- 1 cup chopped chicken (I used leftover rotisserie)
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2-3 cups spinach
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 tomato, or as many tomatoes as you wish
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- cook quinoa according to package directions- instead of water, use broth to add more flavor
- Pre-heat a saucepan on medium-high, add roughly 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Or, just eye it. Chop up garlic and add when the olive oil vinegar starts to boil. Cook down to form a glaze, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. If you ignore it, it could cook down too much, get smokey, and kick off your fire alarm (happened to me making lemon glaze once, oops)
- When sauce is cooked down, add spinach, stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it wilts, add chicken and red pepper and quinoa.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and more balsamic vinegar to taste if necessary. Add more olive oil if you like that additional un-cooked olive oil flavor as well.
- Remove from heat, add walnuts, chicken, tomato and cheese
…a happy little update: I made this salad for lunch with the intention of eating it warm. It’s now 9:30PM and I wanted a little snack so I tried this cold. Delicious! The flavors have had time to hang out together and although they got along before, they’re even better friends now! The asiago and walnut make an even better combo. This was great warm but I’m loving my chilled snack version this evening. Happy happy joy joy.