Is anyone else a fan of Hot in Cleveland?
Quinoa Salad Recipe Inspiration
As I developed this salad recipe, I knew I wanted it to be loaded with lots of delicious toppings, and I found myself laughing out loud at a running joke from one of my favorite Hot in Cleveland episodes.
In this particular episode, our glamorous, recently-moved-from-LA-to-Cleveland protagonists, Joy, Victoria, and Melanie, share their beauty secrets with neighbors seeking to imitate their ways.
When the subject of food comes up, the girls reveal to their interested neighbors that basically the only thing they eat all day is a single salad.
“Cobb salad? Steak salad? Mexican salad with the edible bowl???!!”
One neighbor enthusiastically asks after expressing her interest in adopting a similar diet.
To which the sassy, English-accented Joy responds,
“You can’t just take an ENTIRE meal and SLAP the word ‘salad’ on it!”
For the rest of the episode, the running gag is “that’s what makes it a salad.”
Feel like eating a bag or chips? NO problem, put it over a bed of lettuce, because that’s what makes it a salad!
Want some cookies? Sure, crumble them over some spinach because then it’s a salad.
A Delicious AND Healthy Quinoa Salad
Well, my Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette is proof that a salad can actually have lots of delicious toppings and still be healthy.
Loaded with quinoa, chickpeas, roasted asparagus and tomatoes, homemade croutons, and my champagne vinaigrette, this salad feels like the ultimate indulgence, but it’s also incredibly filling and healthy.
I’ve already made this addicting salad a few times this week, and I’m still craving it.
It’s that good.
Enjoy this salad as a main course, or make it a side and serve it with your favorite protein.
Quinoa Salad Dressing
Champagne Vinegar: Don’t Wait, Find Some!
Have you used champagne vinegar before?
It took me years to finally track it down in the grocery store, but it was worth the wait. This slightly floral-tasting vinegar is mild and elegant, and truly makes this vinaigrette a showstopper. Sometimes I find myself just dipping the homemade croutons in the vinaigrette…
(Is that a salad?)
Crisp and creamy, this champagne vinaigrette may just rival my long-standing favorite dressing, my creamy balsamic.
If you’re like me and just can’t seem to find champagne vinegar in the store, here’s my favorite on Amazon [aff. link]. Also, be sure to use a really good olive oil here. As with all salad dressings, the flavor you end up with is the sum of the parts: use a good vinegar, a good olive oil, and you’ll end up with a superior vinaigrette.
You can’t go wrong with my favorite olive oil, PJ KABOS, which you can find here [aff. link]. I use PJ KABOS olive oil for all my homemade dressings and sauces, and I also recommend using it for the homemade croutons in this recipe. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at the beautiful flavor it brings.
Have Your Cake. And Eat It, Too.
“So why did we pour that whole bag of marshmallows on top?”
Victoria asks Melanie after the girls splurge, and down a whole bag of “The Walking Taco” chips that they confiscated from their neighbors.
“That’s what makes it a salad.”
Is of course Melanie’s reply.
This Quinoa Crouton Salad certainly isn’t a bag of Walking Taco Chips with marshmallows on top (does that even sound good??), but it’s proof that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health.
Make this salad anytime you want to treat yourself to a delicious meal loaded on top of some healthy greens.
After all, that’s what makes it a salad.
Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
For the quinoa and chickpeas:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups vegetable broth, (or water, but vegetable broth will bring more flavor)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
For the champagne vinaigrette:
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Vegenaise, or mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp rosemary, dried
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
For the roasted veggies:
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 15 asparagus spheres, rough ends removed and cut to 1 1/2 inch pieces
- ½ tsp fleur de sel, or sea salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the croutons:
- 6-8 oz baguette, cut to 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes
- ¼ tsp fleur de sel, or sea salt
- Pinch of pepper
- ½ tsp rosemary, dried
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Arugula, 6-8 cups, or to preference
- Goat cheese, for sprinkling (omit to keep vegan)
Make the vinaigrette
- Add all the ingredients to a small bowl, and whisk until the dressing gets creamy and emulsifies.
- Vinaigrette is done!
- Note: if the Vegenaise/mayonnaise separates from the oil as it sits, simply whisk the vinaigrette together again.
Make the quinoa
- Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, and salt to a large soup pot.
- Bring it to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low, and cook the quinoa uncovered for 25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- The quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed, and it should still have a bite to it and not be mushy.
Add the chickpeas and vinaigrette
- Now add the drained chickpeas to the pot of quinoa, and stir to combine.
- Next add 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette to the chickpeas and quinoa, and stir until the vinaigrette is completely absorbed.
- Taste, and add a little more vinaigrette if desired.
- While the quinoa cooks, roast the veggies and bake the croutons.
Roast the veggies
- Spread the veggies out on a standard-sized baking sheet.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the veggies, then sprinkle on the fleur de sel (or sea salt).
- Roast the veggies at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Veggies are done! Set aside.
Bake the croutons
- While the veggies roast, prepare the croutons.
- On another standard-sized baking sheet, add the croutons, olive oil, salt, rosemary, and pepper.
- Toss it all together with your hands, then spread the croutons out evenly on the baking sheet so they’re not touching each other.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 5 min.
- (Note: depending on the type of bread you use, you may want to bake the croutons longer, but start with five minutes, let them cool, and taste before doing so. The croutons will get crispier as they cool.)
Compile the salad
- On a large serving platter (or you can make individual servings) lay out a bed of arugula. Layer the quinoa/chickpea mixture on top, followed by the roasted tomatoes and arugula.
- Add the croutons, then drizzle a bit more champagne vinaigrette over everything. Sprinkle a little goat cheese over the top, if desired. (Omit to keep this salad vegan.)
Serve and enjoy!
- Serve and enjoy this salad as a meal by itself, or as a side to your favorite protein.