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Recipe for chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette {vegan, gluten-free}

Chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette

Susan, a long-time reader and fellow New Englander, sent me this recipe in early December along with a note: "One of the things I'm grateful for is the Perfect Pantry and you! Here's something that was on our Thanksgiving table which I though you'd enjoy. The source is a New Zealand food magazine called Dish, which we subscribe to online. The dressing came out nice and thick, so it could be a spread or dip. I thinned it with some yogurt for green salad. Hope you try it. I love this stuff!" Though Susan and I have never met (I hope to rectify that), she knows my taste well. I always have a jar of preserved lemons, a popular Moroccan "pickle", curing in the refrigerator, and I loved this vegan and gluten-free vinaigrette. I'm going to try it on pasta salad, too. If you don't have quinoa on hand for the salad, make some quick couscous instead, and if chickpeas aren't your thing, swap in some diced, cooked chicken.

Chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad

Chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette

From the pantry, you'll need: preserved lemons, olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, garlic, onion, quinoa, chickpeas, cumin, paprika, sea salt, black pepper.

Susan's notes about the ingredients are in parentheses. I used the full teaspoon of cumin and paprika, too, and I wouldn't change it; I also used fresh mint leaves, half the amount called for in the recipe. Makes approximately 1 cup of vinaigrette. The salad serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as an appetizer.


For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 quarters preserved lemon (homemade, everything thrown in except the seeds)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic. That's what I had.)
1 tsp honey (or brown sugar)
1 crushed clove garlic
1/4 tsp each: ground cumin and paprika (I misread it, put in a full teaspoon each -- I wouldn't change it!)
1/4 cup packed mint leaves (picked at my daughter's this summer, had gone dry)
Sea salt and fresh black pepper

1 7-oz bag of fresh spinach or baby spinach
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa


Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. If you wish, add a dollop of plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, or a tablespoon of water, to thin to desired consistency.

To compose the salad, arrange spinach on a plate or platter. Top with chickpeas and quinoa, and drizzle on as much vinaigrette as you like.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Quinoa salad with tomato, feta and parsley
Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad with honey-lime vinaigrette
Quinoa turkey meatloaf
Slow cooker lentil and brown rice soup with preserved lemons and garlic sausage
Chicken with preserved lemon tagine

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Grilled wild salmon with preserved lemon relish, from Simply Recipes
Israeli couscous with butternut squash and preserved lemons, from David Lebovitz
Indian style chickpeas, from Cooking with Amy
Lemony chickpea stir-fry, from 101 Cookbooks
Pork and chickpea stew, from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This sounds right up my alley, too! Bookmarking it!

This dish really appeals to me too!!!!!

This looks really good, I need to get off my duff and preserve lemons.

And the chickpea recipe is a winner! Too bad I don't make homemade, preserved lemons, but I'm sure there's a store bought variety someone could recommend?

OK, this is really speaking to me! Quinoa, chick peas and baby spinach - color, texture and flavor! I'm going to have to figure out the preserved lemon thing, too. After all this time with you singing its praises, you think I would have tried it by now.

Lydia, I can count on you to make something beautiful -- you're the pantry magician.
There's now a 3 hour recipe for preserved lemons, from Mark Bittman (NYT): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/dining/20minirex.html?ref=dining
-- in case you want to try them at home before investing in a long wait for the real thing. (If you pursue links, you'll find a video and comments.)

Everyone: if you don't have preserved lemons in your fridge (and I hope you do -- they are so easy to make), you can buy them online: http://www.mustaphas.com/.

RJ, Bellini: You'll love this -- great combination of flavors in the vinaigrette, and so much healthy goodness in the salad.

Alta, it's really easy to preserve lemons, but see here in the comments if you'd like to buy them instead.

Sandie, yes indeedy. Easy to do, easy to buy online or in any good Middle Eastern market.

TW, it takes about 5 minutes of work to make a jar of preserved lemons, and a week of patience. Well worth it; once you have them, you find yourself adding a little bit here and there to all kinds of dishes. Think capers; the flavor is similar.

Susan, thank you so much for sending the recipe for the dressing. You're right; I want to use it in everything! Three-hour preserved lemons? We'll have to try them.

Wow. Fab. I love mixing quinoa and chickpeas and this dressing looks like the perfect compliment. Thanks for sharing.

Quinoa + chickpeas = a match made in heaven.

I'm always looking for ways to use my preserved lemons. Sounds great.

France, Karina: I love the combination of chickpeas and quinoa, too. But it's a bit bland, which makes this tangy dressing such a winner in this dish.

Karen, same here. Preserved lemons are so versatile, but I tend to use them in the same dishes over and over.

I'm curious about the online subscription for Dish. Is there a link available? I can not seem to find an online version. Or has Susan purchased the magazine online and had it delivered perhaps? I sometimes buy a hard copy of this magazine; there are several good food magazines here, I have subscriptions to a couple of them and ring the changes with the others.

If you'd like to check out Dish -- go to www.Zinio.com. Since the magazine is from New Zealand, hard copies would be pricy to send to the US, so this makes it do-able. You can get single copies, I think, as well as year subscriptions. It is "delivered" to my computer. Robyn, you might prefer the convenience of a paper magazine you can use in the kitchen -- I would if I were there!

Thank you Susan for introducing me to www.Zinio.com. My computer is often with me in the kitchen, a digital magazine would be easy to both use and store. I have a huge collection of food magazines, archiving them by season, but it is getting too big to manage sensibly, try as I might to thin the ranks by donating some of them from time to time!

Lydia, you are amazing!I came across your site through simplyrecipes a couple of days ago and I must say, I've become a huge fan. I tried your asparagus-cashew stir fry last night, and made this for dinner tonight. No leftovers!Both were a huge hit. Its almost as if I'm permanently on your site, looking through your older posts....I have so much of catching up to do!! Will be trying the Indian style butternut squash next...can't wait!

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