Last winter I discovered Quiona. I’m a big fan of whole grains and love a good warm oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, and various other breakfast cereals. I also love cous cous and wheat berries in salads. Quinoa is a gluten free whole grain and can be used as a substitute for various gluten products. I just love the nutty taste and grainy consistency.

In the past I had used it simply to make a delicious quinoa porridge, so I was excited to see it used in a recipe in Bon Appetit. Even luckier when most of the ingredients included produce that I already had on hand from our CSA share.

Quinoa, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing
from Bon Appetit

1 and 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
4 cups packed baby spinach leaves
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
1 and 3/4 cups 1/3-inch cubes un-peeled English hothouse cucumber
1 pint container multicolored baby heirloom tomatoes, halved (2 and 1/2 cups)
1 cup packed fresh packed mint leaves
1 and 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces) divided
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 cup olive oil

Place quinoa in a large saucepan; add enough salted water to cover quinoa by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, 15 to 16 minutes. Drain. Chill until cool.

Meanwhile, combine spinach leaves, garbanzos, cubed cucumber, halved tomatoes, mint leaves, and half of feta cheese in extra-arge bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.

Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining feta over.

This is packed with protein from the garbanzos, iron from the spinach, and tons of antioxidants from the quinoa. The recipe makes a huuuugge portion, so there is plenty of food for a main dish and then lots of leftovers for lunch or side dishes. We had it as a main dish but could go well with hamburgers, veggie burgers, or portabello burgers. I’ve been eating this all week as lunch or a quick afternoon snack. The quinoa is very filling but the vegetables give it a light and summery taste. This dish can also be made vegan by omitting or substituting the feta cheese. Just because Fall is right around the corner, doesn’t mean you should miss out on this awesome and easy salad.