Warm Spinach, Quinoa & Mushroom Salad

Warm Quinoa Salad

You know, the crazy thing about starting this diet is that when I work-out, I find that I want to eat better. I’m slowly introducing myself to healthier foods that I haven’t tried before. My grocery cart has been full of fresh foods, which is so not like me. It’s a wonderful change, because every week, my clothes are getting looser and my body just feels stronger. It’s amazing how quickly your body can change in a few short months!

Quinoa has been one of those ingredients that I’ve been very curious about, but as long as I had rice and pasta, I felt like I didn’t need to try quinoa. I was actually worried it would taste terrible, but when I went to Whole Foods one weekend, I found quinoa in their bulk aisle and bought a couple of cups worth. I love that about their bulk aisle. You can buy just a little bit to try, and there isn’t much waste if you end up hating whatever you get there. :-)

Now, the challenge was to find a recipe for my first try with this grain. I was surprised to find so many recipes featuring quinoa, so I searched for a recipe based on what I had in the fridge. Since spinach and mushrooms are usually in my fridge, this was a no brainer. The original recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, but I had a feeling regular white mushrooms wouldn’t make much of a difference. I also halved this recipe, and I still had a good bit left for leftovers. :-)

For those of you who are wondering, quinoa (to me) tastes a lot like a nutty brown rice. It has a bit of a bite to it (texture wise), but really, I think I could easily sub this for rice in most recipes I make. :-) As for this dish, the salad was very simple to throw together, and it tasted really great! It would be perfect to enjoy this summer, since it’s such a light dish!

Warm Spinach, Quinoa & Mushroom Salad
Source: mildly adapted from Everyday Food

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (well rinsed in a strainer)
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk the vinegar, oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper together until the dressing is well combined.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with half of the dressing and roast the mushrooms for about 20-25 minutes (tossing occasionally).
  3. While the mushrooms are roasting, combine the rinsed quinoa with 3 cups of water and 1.5 tsp. salt in a small saucepan. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the saucepan and simmer the quinoa until the liquid has absorbed, for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. To assemble the salad, place the spinach in a large bowl and top it with the warm mushrooms, quinoa and the rest of the dressing. Toss the salad until everything is combined (the spinach will wilt) and top with the crumbled feta before serving.

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