Protein! Fibre! Vitamins! Flavour! This salad has it all. But where, specifically, does the protein factor into this meal, you may be asking? Well, let me tell you!
Quinoa has a ton of protein in it when raw. When you cook it, however, it loses a lot – but we’ve still got 4.4g of protein per 100g of quinoa.
Pumpkin seeds?or?pepitas pack a LOT of protein per serving – 19g of protein per 100g of seeds. Wow!!
Hemp hearts are another powerhouse. We’re talking about 33g of protein per 100g of seeds! They may be tiny, but they are mighty.
And finally, not to be forgotten,?spinach! It may not be a ton, but these leafy greens are packing 2.9g of protein per 100g. And that’s not bad for a bunch of leaves!
So you’ll see that this salad is secretly packed with protein. (Also, those hemp heart stats are why I sprinkle that stuff on LITERALLY everything).
The Balsamic Dressing
Since the quinoa is pretty flavourful, I decided to keep it simple with the dressing and make my all-time staple balsamic/olive oil dressing. It’s the simplest thing in the world.
I have a dedicated jar for making this dressing. It’s small and cute and perfect for making about 2-3 servings worth of dressing at a time. If you decide to pop leftovers in the fridge, be warned that the olive oil will congeal and look GROSS. But there’s nothing wrong with it – just place it somewhere warm for a little while and it’ll go back to being a liquid.
I just season the dressing with some basic things, but totally put your own twist on it if you’re feeling inspired.
The Quinoa Crumble
This method for preparing quinoa was inspired by another recipe I tried for making quinoa taco filling. It was awesome, so I mixed up the flavour profile to make this salad topping.
When you’re baking it, you can decide how “done” you want it to be. I like some crispy edges so I leave it in for probably 20-25 minutes. The trick is, the top will look pretty much the same all through baking – it’s the bottom that gets crispy. You need to mix it up with a fork to decide if it’s done enough for you.
Again, the spices I used are pretty basic, so you can go ahead and add some other flavours if you’re craving a spicier salad!
Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Dressing
For the Quinoa
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1.5 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- pinch sea salt
For the Salad
- 3-4 cups mixed greens (including spinach)
- 5-6 strawberries (large)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- balsamic reduction (optional)
To make the quinoa:
In a pot, combine the quinoa and the vegetable stock. Cook according to quinoa's instructions, ensuring all liquid is absorbed, and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 5+ minutes to cool if possible.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large pan with a non-stick liner or parchment paper.
Add the olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and basil to the quinoa and mix thoroughly. Spread out the mixture on the pan evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached.
To make the dressing:
In a small container, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with the basil and pinch of salt.
Seal the lid tightly and shake to combine. Pour immediately, or shake again right before pouring to ensure the dressing doesn't separate.
To assemble the salad:
Wash the greens and put into a large serving bowl.
Wash and slice the strawberries and add to the salad.
Add the quinoa crumble.
Add the pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
Optional: drizzle a little balsamic reduction over top for presentation and for a little extra sweetness.