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Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad

You can brighten the dullest of days by using mandarins, those orange, citrus jewels, in my flavoursome, colourful salad. If you enjoy a nutrient dense salad, this Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad will fit the bill nicely. This refreshing, gluten-free and vegan salad is ideal as a packed lunch for work or school.

Course Salad, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine International
Keyword gluten free, mandarin, quinoa, quinoa salad, salad, side dish, spinach, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 people
Calories 262 kcal
Author Alexandra

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed well *
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 mandarins segments separated, and white membrane removed *
  • 5 spring onions/scallions finely sliced - the white, and a little of the green part *
  • 1 1 /2 cups baby spinach leaves stems removed *
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1/2 pomegranate arils removed *

For the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 3 tsp maple syrup or honey if you don't require dish to be vegan
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse vigorously under cold, running water, swishing the quinoa with your fingers. Drain the quinoa well. I sit the sieve on several layers of paper towel; it helps absorb excess moisture.

    Uncooked quinoa in a sieve with running water.
  2. Pour 2 cups of water into a medium size saucepan, add the drained quinoa, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes, until the seeds are tender*.

    Quinoa in saucepan full of water being brought to the boil.
  3. When they’re cooked you will notice they have little curly “tails”. Remove the pan from the heat, place a clean tea towel or 3 layers of paper towel over the saucepan, place the lid back on and stand 5 minutes. The tea towel/paper towel will absorb excess moisture.

    Bowl of cooked quinoa now cooling.
  4. Place the quinoa into a bowl and leave it to cool.

    Cooked quinoa in white bowl cooling down.
  5. Cut the mandarin segments in half. If the mandarins contain seeds, simply flick them out with the point of a small, sharp knife.

    Mandarin segments, cut in half on a black mat.
  6. To toast the flaked almonds I add them to a dry, non-stick frying pan. Over medium heat, I toss or stir them frequently until they are golden. Be careful, they will burn easily.

    Flaked almonds toasting in pan.
  7. Add the halved mandarin segments, sliced spring onions/scallions and spinach leaves to the quinoa.

    Chopped spring onions/scallions on a white board.
  8. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and maple syrup in a small bowl. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.

    Bowl of dressing for salad.
  9. Toss the salad with the dressing. Check that the seasoning is to your taste adding more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if required.

    Sprinkle the toasted almonds and pomegranate arils on top.

    Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad. A recipe by It's Not Complicated Recipes.

Recipe Notes

*It is important to thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Rinsing helps remove the outside coating of the grain, called saponin, which can cause a slightly bitter taste. The saponin is a naturally occurring chemical which is there to deter insects. It is vital that the quinoa is thoroughly drained after rinsing so that all the water is absorbed during cooking.

*As mentioned in the main text, different varieties of quinoa cook at different times. Check the quinoa after about 8 minutes to see if it is cooked to your liking. One indicator is that the cooked grains will have little curly “tails”.

*My mandarins were small; if you are using large ones you may only need 4.

*If mandarins are not in season, you could use oranges or canned mandarin segments.

*My spring onions/scallions were small; if yours are large you may only need 4.

*I remove the stems of the spinach leaves for aesthetic purposes only; this is entirely optional. I use the stems in vegetable soups or add them to stock.

*To remove the arils from the halved pomegranate, I hold it cut-side down in my hand with my fingers splayed, over a bowl. I vigorously and firmly hit the top of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon and the arils fall into the bowl.

*The Australian tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, a tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons so you may need to adjust your measurements accordingly.

*Some lemons are much more acidic than others. You will need to check that the dressing is to your taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice accordingly. And if you prefer a sweeter dressing you may want to add more maple syrup.

*I have used maple syrup as a sweetener to keep the recipe suitable for vegans. However, you could substitute with honey if preferred.

Nutrition Facts
Quinoa, Mandarin and Spinach Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 262 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 21mg1%
Potassium 276mg8%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1535IU31%
Vitamin C 26.2mg32%
Calcium 82mg8%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.