As you likely know by now, I love cooking simple, flavorful & plant-focused meals that utilize ingredients I keep continually stocked in my (or my clients’) kitchen. On top of all that, I stick to dishes that maintain flavor & texture integrity when stored in the fridge for the week. This light & refreshing quinoa salad is a perfect example of this kind of recipe – easy, plant-forward and, of course, delicious.
If you’re an avid cook, you probs know that the best dishes are those that hit a variety of flavor & texture notes. In this quinoa salad, I love the chewy, sweetness that raisins add, while the fresh lemon juice adds brightness & acidity. I also throw in some pinenuts to add buttery richness & crunch. Not to mention the star of this show, fresh mint, which gives this dish depth & freshness. It all comes together to create a sweet, savory & satisfying salad that’s perfectly portable for on-the-go lunches & meal-prep friendly for weeknight dinners.
If you’re following along on my “Lean Pantry” journey, you know that a Lean-Pantry-approved recipe means that it utilizes mostly LP stock list ingredients, with a few additional ingredients to round out the dish. In this recipe, the Lean Pantry stock list ingredients include lemon, olive oil, garlic, honey (or another liquid sweetener), onion, quinoa & raisins. That means the only other needed ingredients are fresh mint & pine nuts. How awesome is that?
I love interesting & flavor-packed grain salads like this one because they pretty much guarantee that a grain bowl I quickly throw together will be epic. The other night, I used baby greens (lean pantry stock list) as a base for this quinoa. I then topped it with crispy cumin tofu (lean pantry recipe), charred onions (lean pantry staple) and some jarred pepperoncini (flavor-bomb condiments like these spicy peppers are also on the Lean Pantry stock list). It turned out to be one of my favorite grain bowls to date, although I say that a lot.
Lean Pantry: Lemony Quinoa Salad with Mint & Pine Nuts
1 cup dry quinoa, cooked & cooled
sea salt, fine grain
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey (or other liquid sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium-large clove garlic
1/2 ounce fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted*
Prepare quinoa to package instructions with 1/2 teaspoon salt. After cooking and allowing to sit covered for 10 minutes, add to a large mixing bowl, fluffing with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add diced onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sweat onions for 8-10 minutes or until translucent and slightly caramelized. If the pan gets too dry, add a small splash of water. Set aside.
Make vinaigrette. In a blender or a cup for an immersion blender, combine lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, honey, black pepper, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Blend until well combined. Add fresh mint leaves and blend until mint is incorporated. Set aside.
To toast pine nuts, add to a small dry skillet and cook over low heat until the nuts are beginning to turn golden brown. Keep an eye on them and stir frequently. Remove from pan immediately (or they may burn!), set aside.
When all components are ready, mix sautéed onion into quinoa. Add lemon-mint vinaigrette, toss to combine. Add pine nuts & raisins (saving some for garnish, if desired. Toss to fully combine.