For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I was thrilled to be assigned A Fit and Spicy Life. Mellissa is a 30-something marketing manager who lives in Minneapolis who loves fitness, food, and wine – sounds like a great combo to me! Mellissa posts healthy, mouth-watering recipes (yes, I said those two words in the same sentence) as well wine and fitness posts. While usually I spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over which recipe to make, this month it was no contest. As soon as I saw Mellissa’s Quinoa, Garbanzo and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette I knew it was the one. Love at first sight, if you will.
Like Mellissa I am also obsessed with quinoa and eat it at least once a week. I’ve made quinoa salads similar to this one before, but it was the smoked paprika vinaigrette that really got me excited. The great thing about salads like this is that you can easily switch up the ingredients based on what you like and have on hand. I swapped portobello mushrooms for the spinach, cilantro for the mint, and changed some of the measurements, but mostly kept Mellissa’s recipe as is. And I can tell you that this dish will be in regular rotation at our place.
- 1½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 6 small or 3 large portabello mushrooms (about 6 ounces), sliced
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 (15- to 16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 unpeeled cucumber, chopped
- 6 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
- 1½ cups crumbled feta or Bulgarian cheese (about 7 ounces), divided
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ cup olive oil
- Put the quinoa in a large saucepan and 1¾ cup water, or enough water to cover quinoa by about 1 inch. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and drain of any remaining liquid, if there is any. Allow to cool slightly.
- Heat a drop of olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) until very hot. Add the portabello mushrooms and cook until tender and cooked through. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until fully absorbed, another minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Put the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, 1 cup of cheese, and half of the mushrooms in a large bowl.
- Add the cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.
- Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.
- Sprinkle remaining feta and mushrooms over and serve immediately.