Warm up with this plant-based, protein-packed spinach salad that features two increasingly popular foods - quinoa and edamame.
Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah,” has a wonderful nutty taste and delicate texture. Quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids; it’s also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Considered a grain, quinoa is actually a seed available in a rainbow of colors including red, black and white. The taste and nutrition are similar across colors, but white quinoa tends to cook up fluffier. Red and black quinoa have a slightly crunchier, less cohesive texture. Red quinoa’s texture and stunning color make it a good choice for this recipe.
Edamame, pronounced “ed-ah-mah-may,” and spinach add a contrasting rich green color, soft crunch and fresh flavor. Edamame are immature soybeans, meaning they are harvested just before they ripen. Edamame are usually found frozen in U.S. grocery stores and are typically blanched before being frozen. Shelled, frozen edamame can be added to salads, casseroles, rice and noodle dishes, soups and stews. You’ll also find edamame packaged dry as a snack food. Like quinoa, but unlike other legumes, soybeans contain all essential amino acids making them another complete plant protein. Edamame are also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. One-half cup of shelled edamame has 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber.
The dressing for this salad is classically simple, consisting of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and tarragon. The roasted red peppers add a punch of color and flavor and the tarragon teases your palate with a subtle, slightly bittersweet anise flavor. Topping the salad with toasted walnuts adds an additional layer of satisfying crunch.
Warm Quinoa Edamame Spinach Salad makes a beautiful, warm side salad or a hearty, protein-packed, plant-based main meal. You can make the quinoa-edamame mixture in advance and refrigerate for up to two days. When making ahead, the salad may be served cold, room temperature or reheated. Since quinoa tends to absorb liquid, you may want to double the dressing amount, using half to marinate and reserving the other half to dress the spinach later.
Warm Quinoa Edamame Spinach Salad
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups (10 oz.) frozen shelled edamame
2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped (2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. lemon zest, freshly grated
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg. (5 oz.) baby spinach
1/4 - 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
In large strainer, rinse quinoa well.
In large pot over medium heat, toast quinoa until it starts to crackle, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 12 minutes. Add edamame on top of quinoa. Do not stir or disturb quinoa. Cover again and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until edamame is tender. Carefully drain any remaining liquid. Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
In large mixing bowl, add tarragon, zest, olive oil and juice. Gently stir to combine. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Add red peppers and quinoa mixture and toss to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In another large mixing bowl, gently toss spinach with reserved dressing.
Evenly divide spinach among four plates and top with quinoa mixture. Garnish salad with walnuts and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 270 calories, 14 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 30 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography