The other day, I grabbed myself a barley salad from Central Market and the thought came to me to make something just as delicious, but gluten-free compliant. I landed on a quinoa salad and quickly began stringing ingredients together that sounded like they would be a perfect combination. And thus, this herby, protein-packed salad came into existence.
As much as I look forward to planning every meal I eat, when it comes to lunch, I rarely have time to eat something I actually want and usually end up eating a bar of some variation. However, now that I work a 9-5 job, I need something more substantial to keep me going throughout the day and quickly realized that a protein bar wouldn’t cut it. Little did I know that this recipe would be my saving grace! Easy to make, perfect for meal prep, and absolutely heavenly.
What’s in this Recipe:
- Quinoa: Quinoa is plant-based protein at its finest and was an easy choice for this recipe given its superfood health benefits, but also given how quickly you can prepare it. Whether you microwave it or cook it over stovetop, quinoa is not only the star of this salad, but the star of meal prep. Any variety of quinoa will work in this recipe, as would couscous or barley I would imagine.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes burst with flavor, giving this salad a hit of acid and sweetness all in one bite-sized tomato. While I opted for fresh tomatoes in this salad, I think sun-dried tomatoes would also pair beautifully with the other ingredients in this dish.
- Spinach: This leafy green is a staple in my weekly meals and was a no-brainer to make this dish vitamin-rich and add another textural layer to the salad.
- Fresh Corn: I have a confession to make, I have a deep, passionate love affair with fresh corn on the cob. No butter, no salt, no roasting – just good ole’ corn on the cob. It is so delightfully sweet and has a crisp texture, which is just what this salad needs to brighten up the dish!
- Feta: Tangy feta crumbled in this salad really ties all of the flavor profiles in this recipe together so well, giving it a summery quality even in the middle of March as we are now. If you aren’t a fan of feta, try substituting it with goat cheese or even mozzarella pearls.
- 1 cup dry, uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 ears fresh white or yellow corn
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp minced shallot
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- Salt to taste
- First, prepare the dressing by combining the parsley, lemon juice, shallot, olive oil, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Set aside while you move on to the next steps.
- Half the cherry tomatoes and take the corn off of the cob, then set these both aside.
- Next, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. The brand I purchased starts by bringing 1 cup dry, uncooked quinoa to a boil, then reducing it to a simmer and covering and cooking it for an additional 15 minutes.
- Once the quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the spinach, tomatoes, corn, feta, and quinoa together with the dressing and mix to combine.
- Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.