It is wedding season!! Things are getting kind of crazeeee around here! Last week I helped with a wedding shower - my friend Linda had it in her back yard and like all outdoor events in Seattle, you have to have a rain plan. The weather didn't look promising but the day of the shower the rain held off...until right before it was to start!! Fortunately, Linda's husband is a MacGyver kind of guy - and he had already planned for rain by rigging up a white tarp over the outdoor patio...
The temp was probably in the 60's but the natives arrived with jackets and we even had quilts for them too wrap up in if they got cold...it was memorable, to say the least! Linda did a great job with the decorating - even down to the cute little diamond ring napkin holders! I did the flowers on the tables and helped with the food and I think everyone had a great time - especially the bride! Olivia received wonderful, over-the-top gifts!! She's a lucky girl to have so much support! The banner Linda made says, "I found him at Walmart" because that's where Olivia met her future husband!!
This salad was served at the shower - it's refreshing and different and the dressing is made from a jar of marinated (in oil) artichoke hearts that are put in the blender! Could not be easier than that! You do have to cook the quinoa, but that takes all of about 15 minutes and once it's done everything is tossed in a large bowl together and the dressing is poured on. This is one salad that will keep after the dressing is on because spinach holds dressing better than lettuce and when the spinach does start to wilt, it still tastes great! This recipe can be doubled and tripled to feed a crowd.
Blending the marinated artichoke hearts creates a creamy dressing - I add a bit more salt, peppper and sometimes some red pepper flakes. This also makes a great "sauce" on top of pasta with a little shredded Parmesan cheese!
Aaaaaaand...this is a pretty healthy salad! Spinach, quinoa, parsley and artichoke hearts (packed in water) make for a great side to any summer-time entree - if you add grilled chicken you've got yourself a meal - one that won't tip the scales, too!
Spinach, Quinoa and Artichoke Salad - Pots and Pins
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 jar (24 oz.) marinated quartered artichoke hearts (You will only use 1 cup of this for the dressing. I use the Bonta di Viru brand)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you can add more vinegar depending on your taste buds)
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
2 green onions
zest from one lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
3 cups fresh spinach (tightly packed)
red pepper flakes, to taste, optional (If I made this artichoke dressing for the salad I do not add the red pepper flakes, but when I made the dressing to serve with pasta I add them - but you do what you want!)
Combine the chicken broth and the quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until all of the broth is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Put 1 cup of the marinated artichoke hearts (hearts and oil) in the blender; add red wine vinegar and process till smoth. (You can reserve the rest of the marinated artichokes hearts and oil for another use or drain the artichokes and add them to the salad.)
In a large bowl combine the spinach, parsley, green onion, lemon zest and thyme. Add the quartered artichoke hearts (those packed in water and you can add any remaining from the marinated artichokes if desired.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the cooled quinoa. Pour the blended artichoke dressing over the spinach mixture and toss to combine. Serves 6 to 8.