Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quinoa, Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

Hope you're not sick of salads yet, 'cause here's another one. Out of this month's Bon Appetit, comes a recipe for Quinoa, Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing. While I flipped right past it, a tip about salad dressings from my brother-in-law (thanks Kelly) made me go back for a second look.

With a delicious combination of flavors and plenty of ingredients, this is a great main course salad. The mint, feta cheese and smoked paprika dressing is what makes it especially good. Perfect for summertime meals, bbqs, picnics and potlucks. And since you can prepare most of the salad while the quinoa is cooking, it’s simple to make with minimal cooking or fuss.

Before making the salad, I read through all the reviews of it on Epicurious. The salad itself is highly rated but about one-third of the reviews mention how disappointing and overpowering the dressing is. I had no problems. Follow these two tips and I promise the whole recipe, dressing included, will turn out perfectly.

Use a good quality sherry vinegar and smoked or Hungarian paprika. And second, whisk the paprika and sherry together and slowly add your extra virgin olive oil. You may want to add just a drop of honey to help the emulsification along. The trick is to blend all the ingredients together well. Whisk for a minute or two until you have a well blended and emulsified dressing and you be very happy with the results.

Quinoa, Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing
(Bon Appetit, July 2010)
I halved the ingredients and it still made plenty, serves 4-5

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 cup cucumber, cubed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked or Hungarian paprika
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place one cup of rinsed quinoa and two cups water in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Chill until cool.

Meanwhile, combine spinach leaves, chickpeas, cubed cucumber, halved tomatoes, mint leaves, and half of feta cheese in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.
Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. You may want to add just a drop of honey into the dressing to help thicken. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Pour dressing over salad and stir with a large spoon to mix all the ingredients and dressing together. Season with pepper to taste and sprinkle remaining feta.


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