This super simple quinoa salad is the perfect side dish and ready in no time. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals protein this healthy side dish can also be made into a full salad just add some more spinach and your favorite protein of choice. Gluten free, lower fat, high protein, paleo and whole30 approved.
During the summer, well really all year long, I’m looking for easy to make dinner ideas. Having dishes like this keeps me from having to rely on cereal or granola for dinner. And that my friends is a win. I work about an hour away from my house so when I get home I’m starving and dinner can’t be a huge production. Anyone else feel this way?
Well I solve this problem my making big batches of things like quinoa or brown jasmine rice and chopping up veggies on Sunday night. I also try to make a protein or two like salmon or make Dave some ground turkey burgers or meatballs so that our dinners aren’t so chaotic. To be honest, some weeks I just live off of chickpeas and feta cheese or walnuts in a salad like this. What can I say, I’m always going to be a vegetarian at heart!
This quinoa salad has all the flavors of summer in one bite. Fresh garden tomatoes, basil and fresh spinach complemented by red onion and a tangy white balsamic dressing. Don’t let Homemade dressing scare you. There is seriously nothing easier. You just put all the ingredients Ina jar and shake shake shake. Seriously there is no reason to buy that bottled dressing.
When I first started focusing on my Health I thought the answer lies in low calorie foods. I was eating these huge salads with fat free dressing and no fat or carbs and wondering why I wasn’t loosing weight. Little did I know that the dressing was not only full of sugar but it was also robbing me of the absorbing the fat soluble vitamins that were in all those salad greens. You see you are really doing yourself a disservice if you choose fat free dressing. Plus there are likely a list of unnecessary chemicals in that bottle as well. you can find some decent dressings in the refrigerated section of your grocery store and a few on the shelves but I urge you to avoid the fat free stuff.
An added benefit of making your own at salad dressing at home is that you can control the fat and flavors in there. For example this recipe only has 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the entire recipe. I like my dressing more acidic so two tablespoons is perfect for me. This salad serves 4 as a side and 2 as a main salad. That’s really not that many extra calories in the big picture. Plus fat makes your skin glow, your hair shiny, and keeps the fat around your cells happy. Why do you care? Well this means your skin cells have adequate fat covering them so they look plump since they can retain moisture in the cell. This means you look less wrinkled. Woohoo for fats!!
Quinoa Salad Recipe Tips
This recipe can be made with quinoa the night you enjoy it. However, it is best with cold or room temperature quinoa. It is easy to make 1 cup of quinoa on Sunday night. 1 cup of quinoa makes 3 cups of cooked quinoa. Why is this a good idea? Well in the same amount of time, you can cook up 3 times more quinoa. And since quinoa reheats much better than rice, it’s easy to add it to salads or use it in quick stir-fries. Quinoa is so versatile, I even like using it in my breakfast! Try this quinoa breakfast bowl or these mocha quinoa energy bites and I think you will agree!
Tomato Spinach Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup cooked quinoa about 1/3 cup dry cooked with 2/3 cup water
- 1 medium heirloom tomato chopped
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 2-3 large handfuls spinach chopped
- 10-12 leaves basil chopped
White Balsamic Dressing
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 4-5 tbs. white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2-4 tbs. water
- pinch salt
- pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa. Add quinoa and water to a pot and cook covered over medium heat for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.*
- While quinoa is cooking, chop tomato, red onion and spinach.
- Make the dressing
- *This recipe works best with cold or room temperature quinoa, but can be made with hot quinoa, but spinach might wilt.
White balsamic Dressing
In a small jar with a lid, add the olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, herbs and pinch of salt. Put lid on tightly and shake vigerously for 10-15 seconds. The oil and vinegar should emulsify and become a cohesive dressing. You can also add 1/4 tsp. dijon musttard if you are having trouble getting the oil and vinegar to mix. Taste and add water and pepper.
- Chop basil right before serving. Add tomato, red onion, spinach and dressing to quinoa. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or within 1-2 hours.
To make this recipe paleo and Whole30 friendly, you can use cauliflower rice in place of the quinoa!
What about you?
- What is your favorite side dish?
- Do you meal prep on the weekend? What do you make?