It was different this year. Different, in an oh-so-wonderful kind of way.

Christmas took its same course of stress and scrambling to make sure I got everyone something thoughtful and nice, sticky notes of who is cooking what, messages of what time we need to be where and remember to tell grandma an hour earlier because you know she'll be late. A joyful frenzy builds through December, to a day that is, well, joyful and frenzied? Hugh and I were able to spend time with everyone, chased around our adorable niece, bundled up for church outside, stayed up super late laughing and chatting with each other; I made undercooked french toast for my family, got a vacuum from Santa, and soaked it in. The holidays are some of the sweetest and funniest times with my family, and having a sparkly new husband to enjoy everything with, made it even better. We got home late Christmas night after talking all day, and I told Hugh the presents were nice, but my favorite part is just the time. We don't often have days with no where else to be than where you are, doing just what you're doing. You've got to savor days like that.

So here we are again, a bit overloaded on sweets and craving foods on the lighter side. This salad is so tasty and gorgeous with all the contrasts of color. Little bit of crunch from the pomegranates and pistachios, and just a subtle touch of coconut in the quinoa. I've been eating leftovers with an egg on top, and I think it'd work well with just about any protein.

May the rest of your holiday season be full of the giving and taking of time.

COCONUT QUINOA + SPINACH SALAD // Serves 6 as a side
I know some are still wary of using raw spinach, and I think arugula would be great as well, maybe just use a bit less as it's a bit stronger in flavor.

1 Cup Quinoa
1 Cup Light Coconut Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Broth or Water

2 Large Shallots
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil*

1 Cup Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
4 Cups-ish Organic Baby Spinach
1/2 Cup Toasted Pistachio Nuts

2 Tbsp. Orange Juice**
2 tsp. Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp. Dried Thyme
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (I used a lemon infused olive oil - SO good)

1. In a small pot, combine the quinoa, coconut milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Empty quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool.
2. Slice the shallots width wise into thin coins. Heat up the oil in a 8-10'' saute pan (you don't have many to crisp up). * If you don't have coconut oil on hand, canola oil will work as an alternative, it's just not that great for you. Once it's just shimmering, add in the slice shallots. Stand by them, as they'll burn quickly. They will dance around a bit, and once you see the edges turn golden flip them over or move them around. Set up a double layer of paper towels, remove the shallots just as they turn brown and drain on the paper towels.
3. In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, thyme, olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. **Any citrus would work - lemon, lime...whatever is on hand.
4. You want to make sure the quinoa is room temperature before you toss, or it will wilt the spinach, and we don't want that. Maybe you do, but I don't. In a salad bowl, toss the spinach, half of the cooked quinoa, half of the pom seeds and half of the pistachios with desired amount of dressing. Your choice as to what ratio you want, you can save the rest of the quinoa for later, or toss it in, again, the ratios are up to you. Garnish the top with the rest of the pom seeds, pistachios and all of your crispy shallots. Little grind of fresh pepper and enjoy.

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Reader Comments (59)

wow! beautiful salad!

I'm on a path for lightened dishes myself - even though I've yet to host my "Celebration of the Pig" new year's dinner for 12 friends! I made a great winter riff on tabbouleh today that you might like to check out - satisfying yet simple and certainly healthier than the beef with bearnise I enjoyed on Christmas!

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCooking with Michele

This looks delicious & beautiful! I'm ready to ring in the New Year with a health kick & this looks like something I would really enjoy. Thanks!

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate @ the parsley thief

Oh my word! this salad looks beautiful! may i ask what make of camera you use?

This is lovely. I love the presentation. I work for an organic grower in San Diego and I love this time of year due to the Pomegranates. They're like little rubies. Keep cooking!!
<3H at

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolli

This is exactly the kind of light, fresh food I'm craving after maxing out on heavy rich fare over the holiday. Thanks for sharing!

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Rowdy Chowgirl

yummm... I've never made quinoa with coconut milk, but that sounds delicious. And your photos are seriously gorgeous. I agree with your thoughts about the holidays. Love the family time!

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate hart

I love the arils! Pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits.

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica @ How SweetJ

This looks lovely, Sara. My mother-in-law sent us home with a basketful of persimmons on Christmas and I'm struggling to use them creatively. Coconut milk, pistachio, first-read, it seems I could substitute sliced persimmon for the pom if I don't have one on hand? Am I way off?

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan G

A break from all the indulgent food is definitely needed. This salad looks perfect. Great ingredients and a fulfilling dish!

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMy Little Expat Kitchen

Looks so yummy!!!! Merry xmas!

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNina Designs

I love undercooked french toast (that is the texture I desire). The salad is exactly what I've been craving. Need something light and green to counteract all the sweets and yellow foods. Have a great new year.

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTender B.

your christmas sounds lovely! thanks for this gem of a recipe... i think i'll be making it this very evening. :)

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie R.

Sounds like a perfect first Christmas to me.

Veg, crunch, brightness and light -- exactly what I'm craving now, also.

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Wonderful! I cannot seem to get enough salad the last few days. Those shallots are perfect.

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah S.

This looks perfect!

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaken

Yes, I am craving light and healthy things too but this week is even busier than last week for us. Lots of nights out and in-laws arriving on Thursday means another week of gluttony. I look forward to January when I can make things like this. I never have good luck when frying shallots. They are always part raw and part burnt. Any tips? Perhaps it's the coconut oil that make yours look so gorgeous?

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

This looks like a really delicious salad - love the flavour combination!

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

Sara, you blew our mind once again. We saw this post today and went straight to the grocery store after work. Santa gave me a pomegranate for Christmas that was just begging to be eaten, and then your recipe arrived like a bonus after-Christmas gift.

Needless to say, the salad was superb and a total win. We made the dressing with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and some grassy, peppery olive oil from Amman, Jordan. Yum! It was slightly tart, and a perfect complement to the savory pistachios and shallots.

Magnifique! Keep the seasonal goodness coming. We love these flavor adventures-- thank you so much for sharing your unique creative talent in the kitchen for the rest of us who rely on your inspiration.

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen and David

I've been craving salad, and only salad, since Christmas ended. This one looks amazing. Gonna have to try!

December 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay Jewell

this looks amazingly delicious. i love the colors in the salad-so vibrant!

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteramanda@seegirlcook

I never cooked with quinoa before. The rather delightful addition of pomegranate really piques my interest - I think I'm going to try this on the weekend. As Lindsay said above, I've been wanting light meals since the splurge at Xmas.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

I love how bright and colorful this looks!!

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney

This is the kind of food that I'm craving. I love the addition of coconut milk and maybe it will help me get over my quinoa aversion. Millet on the other hand, I love, so I might just swap the grains. Happy 2011!

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

Absolutely delicious! A quick and healthy dish for the New Year. I have a feeling this one is going to become a regular meal in my home...

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

I'm a big quinoa person. This looks amazing! Happy 2011.

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Sara, this salad looks absolutely wonderful, Really!
I love the infused lemon oil!!! What a great idea! I usually only infuse oils w herbs, chilis or garlic.
Secondly, I really hope you can anwser this quistion.
How do pomegranates work in a salad? I mean, I usually just eat them by themselves and have to spit out the hard seeds. I've seen them all over in recipes. Do you just bite through the seeds or still have to spit them out?

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhealthy mamma

Sarah and Hugh, what unique flavors and beautiful images! Quinoa is still on our no-no list for our grain free diet but we hope to incorporate it back in one day :) Happy New Year!

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCoco

The pictures are absolutely stunning and the recipe sounds perfect. Dinner tomorrow night for sure!

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfigandfennel

Yum! Really nice combination. A perfect way to recover from holiday belly - light and bright :)

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternancy

What a completely stunning salad! Now I know what to do with that lingering pomegranate.. thank you!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

beautiful photos! the salad sounds so healthy and yummy too.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

I've just found your site and I'm very inspired by the simplicity and freshness of your recipes, writing and photography. A lovely start to 2011.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSally - My Custard Pie

That looks wonderful!!! I'm sure it's to die for!! :)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersheila @ Elements

Just devine! Your creations and website are fabulous.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeffrey - the therapist

I've been doing all kinds of fun things with quinoa these days but I have never tried cooking it in coconut milk. What a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrance

I love the idea of cooking quinoa in coconut milk and then scattering on a salad. I'm going to try this...
Also, I would like to start using coconut oil for cooking for health, and I always wondered if it changes the taste of the food? Can you comment?
I have linked your site to my blog. I think it's great!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGail Fenton

Such gorgeous colors!
Your Christmas sounds picture perfect. I wish you a very happy New Year!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnika

First time commenter, here! I just LOVE this blog - so beautiful and so inspiring! I tried this recipe last week and it was quite tasty! The coconut milk was a great idea. And I do keep coconut oil on hand, so cooking the shallots in it was perfect - didn't really add a lot of coconut flavor, just a tiny hint - more of a scent than a flavor, you know? Anyway, keep the gorgeous recipes coming!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralex

[...] bitter coating that covers both varieties. Tofu, Coconut Quinoa and Spinach Salad Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Serves 2 as a main, 6 as a [...]

This looks incredible. I cannot wait to try it. As usual your photos are absolutely beautiful!

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTasty Yummies

I love your photos and this salad was delicious!

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichaela

[...] Coconut Quinoa and Spinach Salad Serves 6 as a side, less as a main dish Via Sprouted Kitchen [...]

Hey! We got our first SK mention! So proud! ;) Salad looks fabulous too!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMollie

I love adding pomegranate seeds to my salads. Just look at the beautiful color it provides in contrast to the dark leafy greens.

[...] Rob tried and supplied some great links to recipes- Curried Lentil Soup & Coconut Quinoa + Spinach Salad [...]

I have made this twice in the last month. It is fantastic. I like that you can play with the proportions as your tastes desire: you can make it quinoa dish with some spinach in it, or a spinach salad with quinoa. It is so delicious. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrowley

I made this and paired it with a baked chicken with orange zest-- It was amazing.
(I usually shoot my food and baking, but told a friend I didn't shoot it because Hugh killed it on this) ;)

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermaggie

I cannot wait to try quinoa cooked in coconut milk! We have quinoa all the time and am always looking for new ways to make it. I can't wait to try it in this salad and as the base for a spicy green curry. YUM! Thanks Sara!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercaitlindentino

Loved the shallots in coconut oil! This was a great dinner. I used my frozen pomegranate seeds that I had saved from a few weeks ago. So refreshing in the middle of winter here on the East coast!

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

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