I am always here for a spinach-artichoke moment. Whether it’s a riff on the classic party dip in the form of pasta, baked chicken or grilled cheese, I’ll happily oblige. Knowing this, then, you won’t be surprised to learn I have a spinach-artichoke-dip-inspired salad in my newest cookbook, “Salad Seasons.”
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It’s light and fresh rather than goopy, with still plenty of comfort, thanks to warm roasted artichokes, wilted spinach, and a generous amount of salty feta crumbles. What makes this recipe so special, though, is the crunchy, crouton-like quinoa that’s sprinkled over the whole mess to lend big-time texture, as well as feel-good protein to every forkful. It’s a bright, warming bowl for spring, whether as a meatless main or a vegetable-packed side to round out a celebratory meal.
Why I love this salad
My cookbook shows off salad’s versatility from season to season and proves that the dish shouldn’t be defined simply by bowls of greens. This playful platter puts this theory to work. Rather than fussing with fresh artichokes, which while delicious are frankly a bit of a pain to prep, this recipe calls for marinated artichokes. Not only are they easier, but they’re also soaked with flavor and crisp up in the oven when roasted, as they’re soaked in an oily marinade.
When the golden artichokes come out of the oven, baby spinach is scattered over them, which wilts just enough in the residual heat. A bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper are all that’s needed to turn this into a simple salad, but the crunch is what makes it an exciting salad. Toast cooked quinoa under the broiler and the grains become little crispies to scatter over spinach and artichokes. When combined with one more layer of crunch in the form of sliced scallions, each bite is full of texture, while crumbled feta lends creamy, salty goodness.
A few tips
- Use day-old quinoa to get ahead: While the recipe calls for cooking a pot of quinoa from scratch, if you happen to have any leftovers from last night’s dinner or meal prepping, reach for that instead. Leftover quinoa actually gets even crispier in the oven because it’s had time to dry out in the fridge.
- Reach for feta packed in brine for the best flavor: Skip the pre-crumbled feta and opt for a block that’s sold in its brine, which you’ll simply crumble yourself. It’s softer, creamier, and way more flavorful.
- Try baby kale or arugula instead of spinach, if you like: While you’ll lose the spinach-artichoke angle, baby kale or arugula can be used in place of the baby spinach if they happen to be out of spinach at the grocery store when you’re shopping.
Warm Spinach-Artichoke Salad with Quinoa Crunchies
Makes 1 large salad; serves 4
1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup water
2 (12-ounce) jars marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 packed cups)
Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 450 F.
2. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse well. Transfer the quinoa to a small saucepan, add the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt as needed. Transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and refrigerate to cool while you roast the artichokes.
3. Meanwhile, place the artichokes on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper, and spread into a single layer. Roast on the bottom rack, tossing halfway through, until browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately scatter the baby spinach over the roasted artichokes to very lightly wilt while you toast the quinoa. Switch the oven to broil on high.
4. Use your fingers to break up any large clumps of quinoa, ensuring it’s spread into a single layer. Transfer the baking sheet of quinoa to the top rack and broil, tossing frequently, until the quinoa is browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Gently toss the vegetables with the lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper on the baking sheet. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Divide among 4 individual plates or shallow bowls. Sprinkle with quinoa crunchies, feta, and scallions and drizzle with olive oil.
(Sheela Prakash is a senior contributing food editor at TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)