Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quinoa with Mint and a Smoked Paprika Dressing

I’m a smoked paprika fan. Okay, fine, I didn’t use it until this past week but I’m in love. I even ponied up the $6 to buy the damn spice, so I better have liked it.

As you may know, I’m terribly keen for quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Always be sure to rinse your quinoa a few times to remove any bitterness. Rinsing this tiny grain is an exercise in patience and deftness (neither of which I possess) so I usually make Matt do this. I call him Matty the Sous Chef. (He doesn’t like this.) And sometimes I pretend we have a cooking show and talk aloud, and have Penny as our taste-tester and I urge him to play along as I critique his chopping skills. (This is when he leaves the kitchen to play a video game.)

This quinoa salad, served cold, is pure summertime refreshment. The mint adds a little somethin’ somethin’ and it’s a nice departure from my usual quinoa creations. Enjoy with grilled fish or a burger as an accompaniment, or as a main dish like we did.

Quinoa with Chickpeas, Spinach, Mint, and Smoked Paprika Dressing
Recipe by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (9 to 10 ounces), rinsed, drained
  • 4 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves  
  • 2 15- to 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
  • 1 3/4 cups 1/3-inch cubes unpeeled English hothouse cucumber
  • 1 1-pint container multicolored baby heirloom tomatoes, halved (2 1/2 cups)   (We simply used grape tomatoes but I just saw these lovely darlings at Trader Joe's today.)
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces), divided (We used much less to cut calories.  And, uh, because I forgot it at the market.)
  • 1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar (I used a combo of white wine vinegar and sherry cooking wine.)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


Place quinoa in large saucepan; add enough salted water to cover quinoa by 1 inch. Bring to 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-large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.

Whisk vinegar and smoked paprika in 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.


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