Spring Quinoa Salad with Labneh

 

Spring has barely started around here. The forecasts fill us with hope as they announce a week of sun and warmth. We can finally dare to put the winter coats under the protective plastic case, back in the closet, down in the darkest corner where the eye can’t be reminded of how fast this good season goes.


To stress the accent on this seasonal change – to make it even more evident before our eyes – we have been filling our house with a variety of spring produce: peas, runner beans, asparagus, broad beans, spring onions, fresh spinach and herbs. I have been enjoying combining their different shades and textures into sprightly green salads, enriched with grains and fresh cheese. Here is one of my favourites.


Spring Quinoa Salad with Labneh

Feel free to play around with the greens and the seasoning: feta instead of labneh, pesto instead of mint (I can see nettle pesto working wonders here). Go with what you like, but try to keep it total green – the colour is what makes this dish quintessentially springy. 

250 g cooked and cooled quinoa
60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
250 g green beans, runner beans or snow peas,
trimmed and cut into 2-cm pieces
5 small green onions, trimmed and chopped
1 bunch (about 300 g, 12oz) green asparagus
100 g fresh peas
1 bunch (about 1 cup) fresh mint

2 tbsp labneh (see recipe below)


Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Peel the woody stems of the asparagus (if needed) and cut them into twos, and then again lengthwise into halves. Add the runner beans or green beans to the hot skillet and sautée for about 3 minutes. Next, add the asparagus and sautée for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa with the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Next, add the peas, green beans, runner beans, asparagus and green onion. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Top with labneh and roughly torn mint leaves. Stir again to incorporate. Serve at room temperature.


Labneh

Yield about 1/2 cup
1 pot (500gr) of organic plain, full fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp salt

1 tbsp lemon juice


Place the yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or muslin). Set it over a bowl, cover and place in the fridge. Leave to drain for at least 12 hours, or overnight. The more you let it drain, the thicker your labneh will be.

Once drained, season the labneh with salt and lemon juice and then store in an airtight container. Use the liquid as you would buttermilk (for bread, pancakes etc).

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4 Comments

  1. Regula June 4, 2013

    This looks delicious, and actually it also looks a bit like my lunch! I like to take quinoa, rice or bulgur to work and now with the asparagus season in full swing it's a great addition to my lunchbox!

    Reply
    • Valeria June 5, 2013

      Me too, I make big batches and have them for lunch for a couple of days –they are filling and nourishing, tasty and just very handy!

      Reply
  2. la domestique June 4, 2013

    It feels as though spring is just beginning here in Ireland too and this recipe for quinoa salad would be a lovely lunch. I can't get enough green on my plate at the moment.

    Reply
    • Valeria June 5, 2013

      Ditto. It's kind of an ancestral need, I guess…fingers crossed, the weather is nice here!

      Reply

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