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I adapted this salad recipe from cookieandkate.com and it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I’m not kidding. I did a food demo for the Cancer Support Center this past weekend. Since it’s summer, I wanted to focus on fresh herbs and what might be in someone’s garden (or could easily be picked up at the store). I’m proud to say that the basil used was from my back deck!

This salad combines the most nutrient dense foods you can find including quinoa, chick peas, spinach, fresh garlic, tahini, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Quinoa is considered a “complete protein”, although technically, it’s lower in lysine than soy. It’s still an excellent source of protein and fiber and botanically is a seed but classified as a grain in the nutrition world.

I used natural (AKA white quinoa), but red quinoa could easily be used to change up the color of the salad. This recipe called for spinach, but kale could be substituted if desired. I accidentally left out the feta cheese, but since the dressing had a creamy texture (from tahini), I really didn’t miss it. Leaving it out is fine if you want to keep the salad vegan.

Chick peas added flavor and texture to the salad as well as protein and fiber. I can see Cannellini, Great Norther or Navy beans in this salad as well. If you’ve got fresh mint on hand- toss it in! It would go well with the parsley and basil.

Toasting pumpkin seeds in the microwave toasts them more easily and prevents you from having to baby sit them at the stove. Other nuts or seeds (such as walnuts or slivered almonds) would be delicious, too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups ripped baby spinach
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup chopped green onion (green parts only)
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta (optional)
  • ⅓ cup toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

Lemon-tahini dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine rinsed quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Boil quinoa over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 13 minutes until quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, cover, and flush the quinoa. Set aside to cool.
  2. Toast pumpkin seeds in the microwave by layering them on a flat surface. Microwave for 1 minute at a time, turning the seeds until browned.
  3. For dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt and several twists of freshly ground pepper. Taste and add extra lemon juice and/or more pepper as desired.
  4. Add the chickpeas, spinach, parsley, basil, green onion, feta and toasted pepitas to the quinoa. Drizzle dressing over the salad, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or let it cool and refrigerate for later. Salad keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.

Makes 8-10 servings.

 

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