Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad

I am sure that your holiday season has some similarities to mine – parties, cookie exchanges, baking, gift-buying, travel plans, church plans, volunteering, etc.  Your evenings are probably jam-packed and your weekends even more overflowing.  Trust me, I can relate.

Lately I have let some of my healthy habits fall to the wayside and use that “busy schedule” as an excuse.  But let me be honest with you: this is not a legitimate excuse.  I’m mostly preaching to myself here, you just happen to be reading my rant.

It’s time to prioritize and treat my body well.  I need to get back to the gym, back to eating more spinach and fewer butterscotch chips.  I need to eat more meals like this toasted walnut quinoa spinach salad.   

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad

Y’all know that I adore quinoa.  I love spinach too.  And walnuts, add them to any salad and I am in!  The idea for this salad was inspired by my talented friend Aggie.  She posted a nutty quinoa spinach salad that I went to make one Saturday and realized that I didn’t have all of the ingredients. So I used what I did have on hand (including some California Walnuts, thank you times a million!) and don’t even think I’m kidding when I say we have eaten this at least once per week since.  It’s the simplest salad, it’s filling and full of good-for-me stuff…stuff that I vow to always have on hand just in case I find myself in a pinch for a wholesome meal.

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad

PrintPrint Recipe

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad

Yield: 2 entree salads; 4 side salads

Total Time: 20 minutes

A simple, healthy spinach salad with toasted walnuts, quinoa, veggies and homemade vinaigrette.


for the salad:
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts (I used California Walnuts
3 cups spinach, chopped or torn
1 green onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

for the dressing:
2 Tbs. garlic-flavored olive oil
1 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. sesame seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste


In a medium stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the quinoa and toast for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned. Pour in the stock and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the germ of the quinoa is exposed.

While the quinoa cooks, toast the walnuts in a small pan over medium low heat, shaking the pan often and watching closely so the walnuts don't burn. Set aside (and snack on a few!)

Place the spinach, green onion, carrots and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add the walnuts and set aside.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.

When the quinoa is finished, add to the spinach mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with the prepared dressing and parmesan cheese, if desired.

Cassie's Notes:
If you don't like quinoa, you could swap it for cooked orzo or cooked couscous.

I think kale would be a great alternative to spinach too.

Inspired by Aggie's Kitchen

Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad


42 Responses to “Toasted Walnut Quinoa Spinach Salad”

  1. #
    Aggie — November 28, 2012 @ 6:11 am

    That is one beautiful healthy salad!!!! I am with you on the treating your body well, especially during this time of year – so many temptations!

    Thanks so much for the link love, I’m so happy that salad inspired you! xo

  2. #
    steph@stephsbitebybite — November 28, 2012 @ 6:37 am

    Love this salad! And such a great combination of textures!

  3. #
    Kathryn — November 28, 2012 @ 6:37 am

    I’m completely with you. The last week I have eaten far too much of the delicious but less good for you stuff and I think I need a couple of clean eating weeks before the holiday madness sets in. Thanks for the inspiration Cassie!

  4. #
    Dixya@food, pleasure, and health — November 28, 2012 @ 6:47 am

    I feel the same way about not taking care of myself lately coz it’s holiday season and cookies are hard to resist. I love quinoa buy never occurred to me make something quick. Looks so delicious.

  5. #
    Vicki Bensinger — November 28, 2012 @ 7:05 am

    Oh this sounds perfect and what my body is craving after all the junk I’ve been eating the past week. The dressing is such an unusual combination that I’m curious to see how the flavors blend together. This salad would be great rolled up in a wrap if there are any leftovers as well. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to make this.

  6. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — November 28, 2012 @ 7:23 am

    this salad has everything and more of what I want/need right now. Healthy, wholesome ingredients to keep my tummy and body happy. I love toasty walnuts with my quinoa – i usually sprinkle it with toasted nuts of some kind no matter how I am eating it. thank you for the feel good meal Cassie!

  7. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — November 28, 2012 @ 7:36 am

    That is one beautiful bowl of greens!

  8. #
    Sheila — November 28, 2012 @ 7:37 am

    I’m with you. After last weekend i feel like a slug. So many sugary, cream cheese laden appetizers and desserts…this salad looks really yum!

  9. #
    Kate@Diethood — November 28, 2012 @ 8:21 am

    Gorgeous salad, Cassie! I need exactly this after that crazy feast last week.

  10. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — November 28, 2012 @ 8:23 am

    Walnuts + quinoa is one of my fave salad combos. Thanks for the inspiration. I am going to need this in between my cookie baking for the next month and a half!

  11. #
    Heidi @foodiecrush — November 28, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    I’m with ou on getting back on track. I’m going to start by eating more cheese and sugar.

  12. #
    Ali | Gimme Some Oven — November 28, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    This looks so fresh and delicious!!! Love all of that green in the winter! 🙂

  13. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — November 28, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Oh, the holidays! They can cause so much craziness! Good thing there are these gorgeous and healthy looking salads to keep us sane. Can’t wait to try, Cassie!

  14. #
    Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry — November 28, 2012 @ 8:51 am

    I’m totally going to the gym today. Haven’t been in almost two months, and I am right there with you on needing to eat better. My pants are feeling it. This looks great!

  15. #
    Angie — November 28, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    What a great light salad in this season of sugary sweets!

  16. #
    Christine (Cook the Story) — November 28, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    How nice to see such a pretty salad when all I’ve been eating is heavy food. It’s a reminder to lighten up a bit! And also, of course, that lighter food can be pretty and satisfying too. Thanks!

  17. #
    Julia {The Roasted Root} — November 28, 2012 @ 10:48 am

    This definitely is a wonderful salad to get back on track! I have been clinging on to my sweet toothed holiday habits for daaaaaays, so I commiserate with you, knowing it can be difficult to get the clean back in the system and work it all out at the gym 🙂 GREAT salad, looks wooonderful!

  18. #
    claire @ the realistic nutritionist — November 28, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    Healthy and delicious, my kinda meal!

  19. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — November 28, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    I love this salad! I’m constantly trying to eat veggies to make up for all of the sweets – this is a perfect place to start!

  20. #
    Carlas Confections — November 28, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Oh goodness this looks so delicious and healthy. I really want to make this now. I wish I had all of these ingredients on hand. I am definitely pinning this bc I need to get some healthy things in my diet right now!! 🙂

  21. #
    Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes — November 28, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    This is FAN-tastic! I think walnuts are SO incredibly underrated – I love the idea of using them in a salad. Such a pretty meal!

  22. #
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits — November 28, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    I’m right there with you. And piling a cookbook on top of it, I’m going crazy. I added two more runs per week and everything I eat that is “non-work related” has to be super healthy. Which, incidentally, includes a lot of quinoa salads, even todays lunch. This one will probably get added to the rotation.

  23. #
    sarah — November 28, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

    Pretty!! And exactly what I need to be eating right now…

  24. #
    Lisa — November 28, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    I just made this for dinner tonight and it is delicious! Thank you!

    • Cassie replied: — November 28th, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

      Hi Lisa, so glad you enjoyed it!

  25. #
    Anita at Hungry Couple — November 28, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    This really does look wonderful and probably a little healthier than the chocolates I’ve been stuffing in my mouth. 🙂

  26. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — November 28, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    You know I’m all up for a quinoa dish! I’ve been trying to get back on the healthy track too now that Thanksgiving is over and this here is just perfect!

  27. #
    Baking Serendipity — November 28, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

    Love quinoa and spinach salads…and need some of this in my life 🙂

  28. #
    Tracey — November 28, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

    I’m slowly learning to dig quinoa one dish at a time, and this one looks fantastic Cassie!

  29. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — November 28, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

    Just what I need to detox from the holidays! {annnd I love toasted walnuts too!}

  30. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — November 28, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

    This salad sounds perfect. I just got a big package of walnuts, and have spinach on my grocery list, so I will try this soon!

  31. #
    Meghan — November 28, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

    Gorgeous salad, Cassie! Great combination of flavors & textures!

  32. #
    Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch — November 28, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I need salad straight through the holidays! And water!

  33. #
    Cookie and Kate — November 28, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    This is my kind of salad. Looks delicious!

  34. #
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty — November 29, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    What a pretty salad! Love salads like this that can act as a complete vegetarian meal. Yum.

  35. #
    Kelley Geiger — November 29, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    I just made this yummy salad and ate the whole thing!!!!! I did use ginger dressing instead of the one posted….SOOOOO GOOOODDDD! Will be making this A LOT!!!!!

    • Cassie replied: — November 29th, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

      So glad you liked it, Kelley!

  36. #
    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — November 30, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    Love this, Cassie!! Aggie is my salad mentor, she has so many great ideas!

  37. #
    Mel — December 13, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    I made a small version of this I wasn’t sure about the walnuts but I love it.
    Thanks Cassie.

  38. #
    Elizabeth — January 4, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

    This was absolutely fabulous! I didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar in its place. I didn’t include permesan either. It was delish!!


  1. Pingback: Wednesday Ramblings | Bake Your Day

  2. Pingback: Quinoa Spinach Salad | The Effortless Chic

Leave a Comment