A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.
In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves. In the summer months, in particular, quinoa is perfect for your summer salads because it can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature.
If there is one ingredient I love it is lemons. There is something about that citrus addition that brightens flavors so much. Today I am sharing my favorite Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad that is one of my favorite ways to use lemons in my house.
More importantly though, we are celebrating this citrus ingredient today in honor of a very special blogger that I have truly grown to love and her beautiful blog, “The Lemon Bowl.” I am so excited to be celebrating Liz in a virtual baby shower today with so many amazing bloggers to share in this celebration.
If you haven’t visited The Lemon Bowl before, you are in for a treat. Liz creates the most delicious dishes and finds new ways to make healthy dishes seem absolutely sinful. She is one of my favorite food bloggers to follow on Instagram and you will often find her in recipe development or shopping at the local farmer’s market through her photo stream.
Everyone that is participating will be using lemons in some way whether it is a delicious side, a soup, an appetizer, or a dessert. Lemon is one of the most versatile ingredients and the zest and juice from lemons are often my secret weapon in making the dishes I create stand out.
Today I wanted to share my favorite lemon recipe that I love to create and share at potlucks, cookouts, and just as a quick and healthy lunch for myself. As you know, I am quinoa-obsessed these days. With the ease of preparing quinoa in the rice cooker, I love to make big batches of it to use in my dishes throughout the week.
This Lemon Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad gets all of its flavor from the zest and juice of a lemon. Tossing the quinoa with my favorite combination of spinach and tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and just a little salt and pepper makes this dish both easy and very budget-friendly.
If you want to add even more protein to this, consider adding a little roasted chicken breast (I love this method of preparation) or dice a little chicken using a prepared rotisserie chicken. Thanks to using quinoa in this, rather than pasta, you already have a protein-filled dish that doesn’t even need the meat.
An easy gluten-free salad that is always a crowd-pleaser!
1 pound spinach, washed, dried, stems removed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lemons, zested (reserve the lemons for juicing over the pasta)
2 cups cooked quinoa (use the technique I shared above)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the bowl
Salt and pepper
Prepare quinoa in your rice cooker or as directed on packaging.
Pile spinach leaves in stacks 1 on top of the other. Thinly slice stacks of leaves to make spinach confetti. Pile shredded spinach into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl.
Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
Add the zest of 2 lemons to the bowl reserve the lemons for adding juice to the sauce later.
Add hot cooked quinoa to the mixing bowl. The heat of the quinoa will wilt the spinach and warm the tomatoes at the bottom of the bowl and get the juices flowing from veggies. The heat of the quinoa will also release the flavor and oils in the lemon zest.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of two lemons over the quinoa and toss to combine the veggies and quinoa.
Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Toss the ingredients together to combine.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese or leave plain if you are taking the salad on the go.