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quinoa, apple, spinach and pecan salad

One of the grains I always keep in my pantry is quinoa, and it is the perfect canvas for a summery, lunchtime salad that is both filling and healthy.  Quinoa is a South American grain that is packed full of protein, fiber and vitamins.  It has a slightly nutty flavor and a crunch texture.

I love this recipe.  It is sweet, nutty and crunchy.  The crystallized ginger in the dressing provides a sweet and spicy surprise. With the added fruits and vegetables, this salad will satisfy your grumbling stomach at lunchtime.

Ingredients

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 med apple, diced
1 cup pecans
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 med shallot, minced
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp crystallized ginger, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

Bring the water to a boil, then add the quinoa. Reduce the temperature to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain the excess water and cool.

While the quinoa is cooking, toast the pecans in a dry skillet on the stove over medium heat or in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Watch closely, nuts will go from toasted to burned in seconds. If you can smell the nuts, they are probably done. Once the pecans are toasted, cool and chop coarsely.

Mix together the apples, spinach, shallots, quinoa and pecans in a big bowl. Now, bring together the vinaigrette. Mix together the remaining ingredients with a whisk. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and chill.