Monday, May 16, 2011

Spinach, Sweet Potato and Quinoa "Salad" with Salsa Verde


Alright vegan friends, AND carnivore friends. Attention. My friend Danielle made this one night for dinner and invited us over. She had told us about it before. I knew we were going to eat this when we showed up at their house that night. What I didn't know was just how much I was going to like it. I mean, who knew sweet potatoes, quinoa and spinach could taste so good? I certainly didn't. You can't know what I mean unless you make this. The quinoa is highly seasoned with cilantro, diced pickled jalapeno, and salsa verde. The spinach is sauteed in garlic, and the sweet potatoes are roasted, simply...but for some reason when you combine all of it along with creamy avocado, more salsa verde and perhaps a few dashes of Cholula hot sauce, good things happen my friends.

This is the sort of meal you will make over and over again because you will impress yourself, like we did. You will pat yourself on the back for making such a healthy meal taste so dang good. And it's really filling, so that's a bonus. The meal is as simple as you can get, but it does require a bit of prep. I like to make the quinoa in the afternoon and let it sit out, covered, until I'm ready to mix everything in later that evening. The quinoa can either be served warm or at room temperature, so it works out great. You roast the sweet potato about an half hour before eating, so really all that needs to be done come show time is a quick saute of the spinach and and a mixing of the quinoa. FYI, this recipe makes a lot of quinoa. You will have some left over. If you are not a huge quinoa eater, half the recipe. As written, the recipe yields about 2 cups of cooked quinoa per person. You won't need that much unless you have some hungry people to feed. I won't change the quantities because sometimes it all gets eaten.

Spinach, Sweet Potato and Quinoa "Salad" with Salsa Verde
adapted from, The Conscious Cook

serves 4

4 medium sized sweet potatoes
olive oil
1 huge 16 oz box of fresh baby spinach
6 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced
2 cups whole grain quinoa
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
3-4 tablespoons diced pickled jalapeno
juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Herdez brand Salsa Verde ("tomatillo" or green salsa), plus more for topping
2 avocados, cut into chunks
Cholula hot sauce, for serving

For the quinoa:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Rinse 2 cups quinoa in a mesh strainer under running water for a few seconds. Add 2 quinoa to the boiling water and bring back to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, fluff, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Yields about 8 cups.

When quinoa is ready, mix in the cilantro, pickled jalapeno, lime juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and Herdez salsa. Set aside until ready to use.

For the sweet potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into a 1/2 inch dice. Pile potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread potatoes in a single layer and roast for 25 minutes, or until soft in the middle and lightly browned. Set aside.

For the spinach:
While potatoes are roasting, prepare the spinach. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 2-3 tablespoon olive oil and add garlic. Saute for about 1 minute. Add spinach a bit at a time and turn the heat down to low. Toss spinach around until it wilts a bit and you can add more spinach to your pot. Once spinach is all in, cover the pot and let the spinach wilt down for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and toss.

To eat:
Put a layer of spinach on the bottom of your plate. Next, add a heaping mound of quinoa, and top with sweet potatoes. Lastly, add chunks of fresh avocado and more green salsa on top. Sprinkle with black pepper for a pretty presentation. Serve at the table with more salsa and hot sauce.