Sides · vegetable

Spring Vegetable & Quinoa Salad

Up until this point, I refused to cave to the supreme commercialization of the strange ancient grain that is quinoa. I would see it everywhere I went. People proclaimed it a “super food” and tried to promote it as better than pasta. Food blogs, magazines, and menus quickly began to become overrun with quinoa recipes.

Whatever, I thought. All of this sounds overrated.

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Of course, I couldn’t snub the grain forever. There came a point that I had to make it myself to figure out all of the hype. I have avoided it for so long, but there was no more avoiding it now.

Enter the OSU-OKC farmer’s market. Rob and I stopped by a couple of weekends ago and there  were a ton of food samples. Samples of pretzels, beef jerky, salsa—-and this table handing out a weird quinoa concoction.

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I tried it and thought it tasted heavenly. The bacon was a nice touch—bacon makes everything taste better. The nice woman offering up the samples also handed me a recipe, and I decided right then and there that I would finally cook up my own quinoa.

Quinoa does have a rather pleasant texture. It’s creamy and the texture kind of reminds me of roe, or caviar; bubbly rounds that sometimes burst in your mouth. The dressing made of dijon mustard, cider vinegar, and bacon drippings also helps the flavor immensely.

This recipe is a great side dish for this time of year. It’s bright, fresh, and very herby. I threw in fresh parsley, thyme, and then some dried tarragon to add to the flavor. The quick-boiled asparagus, wilted spinach, and crispy bacon add so many different flavor and texture levels that it is sublime. You can eat it warm or cold, but I prefer to eat it warm. Try it at your next cookout, if you aren’t embarrassed to admit you’re bringing quinoa to a cookout…

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Spring Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

A warm (or cold) salad made with quinoa, asparagus, spinach, bacon and almonds.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends trimmed and the rest of the stalk cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 3 TBS. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS. butter
  • 1 TBS. dijon mustard
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 TBS. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 2 cups baby spinach, stems removed
  • 3 TBS. almonds, sliced or chopped

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus pieces and boil for 2 minutes. Drain off water.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add butter, dijon mustard, and vinegar to the bacon drippings. Turn off heat and whisk until well combined.
  3. Add cooked quinoa and pepper to sauce in the skillet. Mix until quinoa is coated well. Transfer to a large bowl and add bacon, asparagus, parsley, thyme, tarragon, and spinach—stirring together until spinach wilts. Add almonds and stir again. Serve warm or cold. Top with additional almonds if needed.

Step-By-Step Instructions

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Cook quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus and boil 2 minutes. Drain. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.

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Add butter, dijon mustard and vinegar to the bacon drippings. Turn off heat and whisk until well combined.

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Add quinoa and pepper to the sauce skillet and stir until quinoa is well coated.

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Transfer quinoa mixture to a large bowl and add bacon, asparagus, herbs, spinach and almonds. Stir together until spinach is wilted.

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Serve either warm or cold and top with extra almonds if you want!

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7 thoughts on “Spring Vegetable & Quinoa Salad

  1. It’s sad that commercialization is the thing that gives such great products the spotlight, but truthfully a lot of things have been around for centuries. It just hasn’t necessarily been “discovered” or “exposed” to everyone yet. Glad you gave quinoa a chance. 🙂

    1. Agreed. It’s like kale! Kale used to be a garbage vegetable that people passed over for spinach, mustard or collars greens. Then somebody slapped a “super food” label on it and now you can’t eat enough of the stuff!
      I’m curious to try other quinoas as well. The one I used in this was the, what I’m guessing, normal yellow quinoa.

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