This easy-to-knock-out weeknight quinoa salad recipe is designed to fit in with your busy schedule and your nutrition plan, while featuring in-season, nutrient-rich fruit in a savory fashion. With a perfect mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats, it’s just what runners need to keep going.
Packed with complete protein, quinoa is an ideal replacement when you don’t have the time or desire to prepare an animal protein (but feel free to add chicken if you choose). It also makes a great base when paired with flavorful additions.
Cherries have a list of performance boosters for athletes, such as decreasing muscle soreness, reducing inflammation, and promoting sleep (via melatonin), making them ideal for dinnertime. Walnuts are rich in ALA’s, a type of healthy omega-3 fatty-acid that is essential for both brain health and muscle recovery. Research has shown that most people generally do not consume enough omega-3s.
The addition of feta gives this quinoa salad recipe a salty flavor to balance the sweet, tart flavor of the cherries. Feta cheese is a healthy choice to top salads and pastas. It is rich in vitamins A and K, folate, iron, and magnesium. It also has more calcium and B vitamins than mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, and goat cheese.
Quinoa Salad with Cherries, Walnuts, and Feta
1½ cups uncooked quinoa
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
½ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
3 Tbsp. chopped basil
6 oz. spinach or kale
Cook quinoa with ¼ teaspoon salt, according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, spread onto a baking sheet to cool. In a bowl, toss the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients and the lemon vinaigrette, to taste. Serve over the spinach.
Make a larger batch and store in the fridge up to two weeks, if desired.
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. honey
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
In a blender, combine all ingredients until incorporated.