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Recipe: Lemon Quinoa Salad with Feta and Wilted Spinach

As we head (hopefully) into the spring thaw, have you sowed your spinach seeds yet? Spinach grows very quickly, and you can even sow seeds over snow cover as it thaws for early spring germination.

High in protein, calcium and iron, quinoa (say: keen-wa) is also gluten-free, making the seeds a fantastic choice for vegetarians and those with celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet, as well as everyone else. When cooked, it is fluffy like rice with a mild, nutty flavor and uncooked can also be ground into a flour for use in baked goods.

As winter meets spring, the warmth of the salad fights the still chilly breeze, and the freshness of the spinach foreshadows the bounty that will soon erupt from your garden. It's my favorite time of year, and can I feel myself get anxiously giddy at the thought of the breeze slowly shifting from cold and biting to warm and soothing. I'm ready to break out the lawn chairs and eat dinner on the grass…if only all this snow would melt.

This salad is the perfect accompaniment to an early spring gardening session, clearing out debris, moving leaves from atop the plants and mixing the winter's compost with the topsoil to get the earth ready for planting. Have you started thinking about your spring gardening plans yet?

Lemon Quinoa Salad with Feta and Wilted Spinach

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups fresh baby spinach

4 scallions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cooked quinoa

¼ cup feta cheese

Juice and zest from one Meyer lemon

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the spinach and scallions. Cook over medium heat until spinach begins to wilt. Add garlic, toss and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the cooked quinoa and continue to sauté until quinoa is heated through. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over the salad, add zest and feta. Stir to combine and immediately remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 meal-sized servings or 4 sides.


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