Last summer, a friend and I dined at the California Pizza Kitchen to celebrate our birthdays. Instead of getting my usual, I picked a meal from their featured recipes - it was the quinoa and arugula salad. I fell in love, and I decided I needed to recreate it at home. I made the vinaigrette with a red wine vinegar, rather than the champagne vinegar that the restaurant uses, and it worked perfectly. My husband said it was better than a salad you would eat at a fancy restaurant - and it takes a lot for him to give a compliment! —bakeitandmakeitwithbeth
For the Dressing
extra-virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
dried oregano leaves
a few grinds
freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
Sun dried tomatoes in oil, cut small
oil from sun dried tomato jar
high-quality feta cheese, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cups
baby arugula leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons
toasted pine nuts
asparagus, stalks cut off and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Wash the quinoa and then cook according to package directions. Once quinoa finishes cooking, drain any excess water. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
While quinoa is cooling, prepare the dressing. In a smallish bowl, mix together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, oregano, and pepper. Mix well.
Once quinoa has cooled, add the sun dried tomatoes, sun dried tomato oil, feta cheese, and dressing to the bowl. Toss well to coat. Cover bowl and put into the fridge for about 30 - 45 minutes.
About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve salad, steam the asparagus. Put asparagus in a large saucepan and cover just barely with water. Put over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes. Asparagus is done when you can prick it through with a fork, but still tender. Don't let it get too soft!
Once asparagus finishes cooking, drain and transfer to a plate to cool.
When ready to serve the salad, mix in the 1 1/2 cups of baby arugula to the quinoa and toss. Divide the salad between 3 - 4 serving plates. Top each plate with asparagus and toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, if desired.