I always tend to lean toward salads when I’m having friends over for lunchtime. They are quick to prepare since ingredients can generally be prepped ahead of time and simply tossed together when ready to eat. Not just any green salad will do, however. I like them to have some staying power. I made this the other day for a friend and it was a big hit. My Lentil Quinoa Salad with Spinach and Citrus is protein packed and filling while still being an energizing light lunch.
I made the lentils and quinoa separately in my new favorite kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot. The lentils took me 15 minutes and the quinoa ONE MINUTE. Yup, you read that right…one minute to cook quinoa. Okay, technically, it was 11 minutes because you have to wait 10 minutes for the pressure to release, but it’s only cooking for 1 minute. And all of that time is hands off. All you have to do is add it to the Instant Pot with water and turn it on. (By the way, this amazing device can also be used as a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, warmer and can be used to sauté. It is totally worth the money!)
The vitamin C in the clementines will help your body absorb the iron in the lentils and spinach. You will get plenty of protein, folate, fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, B vitamins, etc…the list goes on and on. You’ll also get a good dose of healthy fats from the avocado and pecans. This is one nutrient rich dish!
I drizzled a creamy oil-free balsamic vinaigrette over this salad just before serving. It doesn’t need much dressing, though, as the salad is quite flavorful on it’s own. I just never pass up an opportunity with balsamic. I could practically drink the stuff. Yum!
- ½ cup dry lentils, cooked according to package directions
- ½ cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions (I used tricolor quinoa for color)
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 2-3 clementines, segmented (I used 2 as mine were huge and sliced the segments in half)
- 1 avocado, diced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup raw pecans
- 4 big handfuls fresh spinach
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- salt/pepper to taste
- Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together and set aside.
- Mix all salad ingredients, except spinach, in a medium bowl.
- When ready to serve, add one big handful of spinach to individual bowls and top with lentil quinoa mixture. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
- Store spinach, lentil quinoa mixture and vinaigrette all separately if you have leftovers.