Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach, Pecans + Maple Vinaigrette

Looking for a fresh idea to liven up your ho-hum salad plate? Have I got a recipe for you. Light, vegan, and packed with protein, this is no ordinary healthy recipe. It's got quinoa. Studded with nutty, buttery chick peas and crunchy toasted pecans and succulent jewels of ripe, juicy pears. And did I mention, in a bowl licking maple vinaigrette?

In fact, this is a salad even salad haters would eat. You know, those stalwart gotta have my meat and potatoes aficionados who eschew anything leafy. Who snicker at fiber. And mock carrot sticks. The sort of individual who gets misty eyed for melted butter and bacon martinis. To said individuals, salad could never be anything but rabbit chow. But this lovely mélange of flavors just might pique their interest.

Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach, Pecans + Maple Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 cup organic quinoa
Sea salt
2 good handfuls of organic fresh baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
1 large ripe pear, washed, stemmed and cored, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chilled chick peas, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of pecans, pan toasted and salted to taste

For the Maple Vinaigrette Dressing:

4 tablespoons avocado oil or fruity olive oil
3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Instructions:

1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve. Place the quinoa in a saucepan or a rice cooker. Add 2 cups fresh water, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and cook on a low simmer until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender- roughly 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and dump it into a large salad bowl.

2. Add the baby spinach, pear, chick peas, and chopped parsley to the quinoa and fluff gently.

3. Whisk together the vinaigrette, pour it over the quinoa salad and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.

4. Just before serving, add the toasted pecans and lightly combine.

Additional Info:

Quinoa adds vegan protein and heft to simple green salads- perfect for lunch or a light supper. Use pears or apples in this recipe- either one will work.

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