I am on the record as liking wacky desserts. My tastes are far tamer, though, when it comes to leafy green salads. For the most part, when I want a salad, I just go down to Mixt Greens and order a predetermined salad right off the menu—I don’t even bother picking my own ingredients, since I figure they know what they’re doing. And I have no objection to ordering the same boring salad just about every time. When it comes to salads, I’m okay with boring. It’s various kinds of leaves and chopped vegetables. This is not exciting stuff.
But I have now met a very strange salad that might change all that. It starts with spinach and chickpeas and feta—nothing so odd there—but then it veers into bizarre territory with smoked paprika? quinoa? MINT?!?
It’s weird, to be sure, but it mostly* works.
I’m so charmed by it that I may turn into one of those people who create such bizarre concoctions at the salad bar that the staff thinks they’ve misheard you, because no sane person could want those things together. In other words, my taste in salads may be starting to mirror my taste in desserts.
* I could do without the mint.
Quinoa, garbanzo, and spinach salad with smoked paprika dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
10 oz baby spinach leaves
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained, and dried well
1 small cucumber, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sherry wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Cook quinoa according to package directions. When it’s done, put it in the refrigerator to cool.
Toss garbanzos with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (not the 1/4 cup called for in the ingredients), salt, and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and crunchy. Allow to cool slightly.
Combine spinach leaves, garbanzos, cucumber, bell pepper, mint, and feta in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.
Whisk sherry vinegar and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.