Sunday, June 9, 2013

Strawberry Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pecans

SRC June 2013


It's officially Strawberry Season! and I can't get enough of that gorgeous, tangy cone-shaped fruit. Mmmmm, just inhale the aroma of some fresh-picked berries, anticipate the sweet burst of flavor when you finally taste one... or two... or a bowlful. These berries taste like sunshine and summer. I knew my Secret Recipe Club post for this month just had to include strawberries. Luckily Heather's blog, joinuspullupachair, held the perfect candidate, a vibrant and flavor-packed recipe for Strawberry Arugula and Quinoa Salad. Her recipe for Rum Glazed Roasted Pecans joined the party and the resulting salad was capital-D Delicious. This duo was such a hit, I can't wait to try some of Heather's other tempting recipes.  

There are countless versions of this Spring classic, with a wide variety of possible ingredients and dressings, and I have enjoyed each version I have tasted so far. How could you go wrong when you start with baby spinach and strawberries? The quinoa added some healthy fiber and protein to this salad, but was a pesky nuisance as it kept dropping off the fork. It presented a comical, messy challenge to try to capture or eat in a mannerly fashion. 

Minor changes: I substituted spinach for the original arugula that I knew RL would reject, added a handful of fresh mint for brightness, and tossed in some slivered red onion for its bite.






Strawberry Spinach Salad
inspired by Heather's version at joinuspullupachair

Makes 4 starter salads or 2 large servings

5 or 6 generous handfuls of baby spinach (about 1/2 large bag )
2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 heaping cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/2 cup roasted pecans, divided (I used pecans and walnuts)
handful of fresh mint leaves, torn or rough chopped, plus more to garnish
thin wedge of red onion, slivered

Mix a standard 3:1 vinaigrette of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (plus a dash of honey if the berries are not super sweet) plus salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (Add some chopped mint and red onion to the vinaigrette for greater flavor pop.)

Use a large bowl and add the spinach, strawberries, cooled quinoa, half of the feta cheese, half of the roasted nuts and a generous sprinkling of mint leaves. Toss to combine. Lightly dress with the vinaigrette and toss again. Top with the remaining feta cheese, roasted nuts and mint leaves. Serve, and wait for the compliments.




Rum-Glazed Roasted Pecans
 from Heather's recipe at joinuspullupachair

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp rum
2 cups whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat both sugars, salt and 2 tablespoons of rum over medium to medium-high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir until the syrup starts to turn clear and non-granular. Take care not to burn the syrup.

Add the pecans; use a heat-proof spatula and stir to coat each nut. The mixture will be thick and stiff, but don't worry. Once the pecans are coated, carefully add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum. The syrup will loosen up at this point. Stir continuously until the syrup returns to a boil, being careful not to burn the nuts or sugar coating. Spoon the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the syrup appears hard and once again, be careful not to burn the nuts - they scorch easily! Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool on the baking sheet. Break apart to separate the nut clusters and store in a cool, dry place.

25 comments:

  1. Strawberry spinach salad is one of our favorites. Adding quinoa to the mix is inspired. You made a great choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We loved this salad enough to eat it two days in a row. :>)

      Delete
  2. Everything in this salad looks fabulous to me. I'm loving quinoa.. gotta try this salad..Love your choice

    ReplyDelete
  3. So glad you loved both recipes! Those pecans are one of my favorite things to make. I usually just eat them by the handfuls but now need to add them in a salad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Heather, the pecans that didn't go into the salads DID disappear quickly, handful by handful.

      Delete
  4. What a great summer salad - and those pecans yes please!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the best thing going when strawberries are in season.

      Delete
  5. This looks great, will have to try it sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Spinach strawberry salads are so wonderful this time of year....although I'm not sure I'd want the quinoa in there...it does look like a bit of a nuisance! :) The pecans made a perfect addition, I'm sure...sugar roasted nuts are divine. Lovely photos!

    ReplyDelete
  7. getting hungry for lunch, yummy. I have never cooked Quiona I need to get on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quinoa is a quick and easy prep. Lately I've treated it like rice for a pilaf; rinse, toast in a tiny bit of oil, then add boiling liquid and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

      Delete
  8. Great choices from a great blog. We just picked over 11 pounds of strawberries this weekend and I think adding them to this delicious salad is the perfect thing to do with a bunch of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 11 pounds, oh my! I'll be checking your blog to see what you do with these treasures.

      Delete
  9. I just got two beautiful pints of strawberries in the CSA today--this would be the perfect way to enjoy them

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, though it's hard to resist using some to top ice cream or shortcake. :>)

      Delete
  10. What a beautiful Salad, we would really enjoy all these fresh goodies! Hope you are having a great week.
    Miz Helen
    Group B SRC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Miz Helen. Back at you with the wish for a great week.

      Delete
  11. Strawberries are a great salad addition - we've been enjoying them on salads lately too. The pecans sound like a tasty addition I'll have to try too! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strawberries are S-O-O-O good, but these nuts are positively addictive (not necessarily a bad thing)

      Delete
  12. I love the flavors and colors in your salad! Perfect pick for SRC!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your salad looks DELICIOUS!!!! I love using quinoa in different ways, and I've never added it to salads! I often use couscous in salads, but I'll have to try this too! Thanks for sharing, it looks wonderful!

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear from you so leave a friendly note. Comments are moderated so it may take a while to appear.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...