sprouted kitchen

We had an impromptu dinner at a friends house on Monday. There was a group text started in the late morning to have dinner that evening on a friends patio. They have a gorgeous view and the weather had warmed up a bit. Nothing fussy or elaborate, just grilling up a big piece of salmon, rice and I planned to bring a salad to share. There were chips and salsa. There are always chips and salsa at a backyard dinner now that I think of it. I crave this kind of thing - the patio dinners with friends. Going out to eat is pleasant, but it's meals with people I love that I soak right up - in a home, dirty dishes and all, mine or theirs, all of it. We drank wine, lingered around the table and laughed. I haven't practiced much of my mantra about the communal aspect of food, which is why I'm recently making more of an effort to have people over for dinner, or to gather some way, in any sense of the word. You see, when your identity is defined by cooking and blogging and writing books and recipes, people assume you make really good food all the time. But the thing is, a lot of the time I mess up, and it's not always good, and I've tried my hand at short ribs for Hugh or guests FOUR times and I can't get them right. So passively, I've let my errors every now and then back me into a corner of not having people over as often as I'd like. Some nights we have breakfast tacos for dinner, and you can't have people over for dinner and feed them breakfast tacos... except you CAN! I just learned that this week, inspired by a dinner with people whose company I truly enjoy. I am going to have people over and it doesn't have to be expensive or a grand effort, just an act of generousity with the intention of spending time together over a meal. It's an uncomplicated plan, really.

If you come to my house for dinner, there will be vegetables. I cook them much better than I do short ribs. I know I'm a little spotty when it comes to cooking meat, but I can make salad. I made a big batch of this dressing to have on hand, and then kept everything pretty and simple to go along with a protein of choice. Maybe some grilled shrimp or get a fresh fish filet at the market. The salad is just right - the easy, likeable sort. The perfect salad to share.

sprouted kitchen


When cooking quinoa for this salad, especially to help it crisp up here, you want to use a 1/1.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid when cooking. For example, I cooked 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa in 3/4 cup vegetable broth. You want a drier, slightly undercooked quinoa before you fry it up so it gets crispy. 

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup cooked and completely cooled quinoa
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • // meyer lemon yogurt dressing //
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dried italian herbs (mine is a mix of oregano, parsley + basil)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/3 cup whole milk greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

sprouted kitchen sprouted kitchen

Heat the coconut oil over high heat in a frying pan. Once it's hot, add the cooked quinoa and saute for about 2-3 minutes until dry and crisp. You want the steam to release and hear the crackling, add a bit more oil if needed. Set aside to cool completely. 

Prepare the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, honey, salt, herbs, pepper and yogurt in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, taste for seasoning and alter as you wish. This can be made up to a week in advance. 

Toss both greens in the dressing to coat, top with the crispy quinoa, hazelnuts and pom seeds and serve immediately. 

sprouted kitchen

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Reader Comments (52)

woohoo! to crispy quinoa. count me in!! yummers.

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShauna

I'm going crazy looking for quinoa recipes and this one sounds perfect right about now.

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdlyn

this salad looks bonkers good! I ADORE crispy quinoa!

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertracy

Wow superb salad! Looks amazing :)

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterami@naivecookcooks

Woah, woah, wind it back....breakfast tacos?

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

yummy yumm..

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersreebindu

That last photo!! Lovely! This sounds absolutely perfect. I will definitely be trying out that dressing! And, I don't know who wouldn't want breakfast tacos for dinner!? Breakfast is my favorite meal, though, so I may be biased.

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I agree with the other commenters, breakfast tacos sound great! You may have to share those with us too. :)

Also, I'm definitely happy to try crispy quinoa! Most recipes use quinoa to create a rice texture or as a porridge. This will be awesome, especially since I just found an awesome tutorial for easily removing pomegranate seeds.

Diane @

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane @ Vintage Zest

I can't believe I've never had crispy quinoa. That salad looks perfect!

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKay

Man, I want to be invited over for breakfast tacos [or this salad]. Yum!

January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

STUNNING salad! I totally agree that you can have people over and serve them something completely casual and relaxed... in fact, I think people usually enjoy that more!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Kitchie

UUUUUGH. This salad is the most fun my eyeballs have had in a long time. xo.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBev Weidner

This looks like a great recipe. I love adding quinoa to salads - especially for lunch. It makes it extra filling. I love your idea to make the quinoa a little drier - I'm definitely going to keep that in mind next time I cook up a batch. It seems to come out a little too moist for me. Thanks for the tip!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tadic

You are so right about not needing to do anything fancy or expensive to invite friends over for dinner. It's the thought that counts! I'm going to try to do this more, I might start with this salad!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

this looks SO good. Crispy quinoa, winter greens, lemon. Yum!!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarah @ two tarts

what a delicious dish! i always cook my quinoa like you describe above so that when i toss it with veggies, crisp it up, etc. it doesn't become mush.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

Love the idea of crispy quinoa! Really excited to try it out.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina

For as long as I can remember, meals have always been a time when my family comes together to talk, connect, laugh, share, and spend genuine time with each other. It doesn't matter whether the food is "fancy" or not. I seem to have lost touch with the communal aspect of food & meals when I'm not around my family, so I shall have to try to incorporate that more into my life. Thanks for the inspiration and this awesome salad!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Lovely post. The communal aspect of eating is a common theme with me. In fact, there is little I'd rather do than share a meal with people I love and enjoy being with. I'm having company for dinner on Sunday and this salad may be on the menu.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

This sounds so fabulous! Love this recipe!

several of my fave ingredients all in one!! lovely post too... i've learned to relax a bit when it comes to entertaining. like you, i felt a little pressure to be spectacular every time we had guests over. now, i'm slowly beginning to realize that it's more about BEING together... even if that means PB& J sammies, instead of a 5 course meal!!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Impromptu meals with friends are the best. Relaxed, easy and always a good time :) A good reminder to that more often! Thanks Sara. Oh and of course this salad looks so yummy! Who needs ribs?? Lol ;)

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYumi

Nothing beats a crispy salad with quinoa!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike

What an amazing-sounding salad! I am definitely going to have to try out that meyer lemon & yogurt dressing. :)

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Beautiful! I love the photo of the lettuce. My boyfriend loves quinoa, so I am always looking for new ways of cooking it. I am definitely going to give this a try.

That last photo is so gorgeous - like a summary of all you wrote: you, serving salad at your table. It's terribly beautiful.
And breakfast tacos sound fantastic. I vote yes.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarah

I'm the same about having people over for a meal, I've had one disaster dinner where the handle of the saucepan broke as I was moving the pan and our main ended up on the kitchen floor in view of everyone.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Awesome.. crisped up quinoa ..all those greens and the lemony delicious dressing.. perfect.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRicha

It has never occurred to me to fry already cooked quinoa. Very inventive - and a nice textural addition to a salad. Just lovely!

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

I like your ideas about communal eating and having people over. I gave up on short ribs a long time ago, too.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDena

This sounds like a delicious new take on the kale quinoa pilaf that I eat frequently!

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Junk Drunk

Oh this is so true. My best friend and her boyfriend dropped by for a last minute lunch the other weekend. I didn't have anything fancy to feed them and I hadn't spent all morning cooking up a feast but I put together a scratch lunch from what I had on hand and it was perfect. Food isn't always about the food.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Where did you get that cool knife ?

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterApl

To heck with shortribs, girl, you make a MEANNNN salad.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

(ps) I LOVE these shots, Hugh!

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

Good company trumps a fancy dinner any day. The salad looks rather moorish too. Thanks for the post.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura@potpourri

Your blog, your photos & your recipes are amazing! :)

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatharina

breakfast taco dinner party - yes!! brilliant idea :)

Absolutely gorgeous salad, I want that right. now.

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeanine

Isn't it a wonderful realization that sharing food with people can be so fulfilling, no matter what you feed them? After losing the need to have things perfect, I have enjoyed inviting people into our small apt. because it's an extension of who we are - and allowing people into that (even when my office space may be a mess or I don't have a perfectly planned menu) is what makes life so beautiful and real. And food can be enjoyed that much more. :)

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonika

thanks for the tips on how to get the quinoa crispy! i love that texture in a salad.

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkale

that looks mighty tasty! would make this during summer too (its so hot in New Zealand right now) never had quinoa before. gonna try seek it out!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

ooh, sounds good!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterk

How long do you think the quinoa will last when cooked like that? I usually take a quinoa salad (bell pepper, cucumber, arugula, feta, lemon juice and olive oil) for lunch but the quinoa is always plain, which is getting old.

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

those are the best kind of dinners. i swear the way you described it i could feel spring around the corner and i can't wait for those moments shared with friends outside.

and of course the salad looks delish. glad i found your blog, thanks for the inspiration!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I love your refreshing admission about things not always ending up quite right in your kitchen -- we don't see enough of that reality in shiny foodblog land. I'm also convinced that it's a function of having a creative palate and a flair for improvisation; we just don't end up making the same thing twice! (:

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervalerie {all mussed up}

I so know what you mean about people expecting great things all the time when you blog about food! It can practically make me seize up when asked to bring something to share into unfamiliar territory. That, plus my constant desire to make something new, can be a bad combination on my part. However, I have gotten much better about not really caring, as long as I think it tastes good ; )

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

I made the dressing and crispy quinoa to top a salad last night. They are both delicious (though, I will admit to using a regular lemon because I like the tart). Thanks for sharing!

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianne

Hear, hear! I feel the exact same way about entertaining. I'm always working on some new dish for the blog, and though I never want to post it until it's just right, my friends reassure me that they, at least, are happy to be my guinea pigs. We get together for pot lucks fairly often, those are my favorite, and I've been hosting more girls' nights at my place. We have to sit on the couch with my grandmother's old TV trays because I don't have a proper dining setup, but still, so fun. Kudos for attempting to cook meat—I wouldn't have a clue where to start.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne


thank you for a delicious recipe. So delicious! I would like to ask you what brand the knife is in the picture? It is beautiful, would love to purchase one.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Thanks for posting this! I love the addition of quinoa, very creative. It looks like it adds some wonderful depth and texture to the salad. I've been on a quest to clean up what I am eating, and this will be a great addition to my recipes. This cookbook I checked out, Health On Your Plate, has some great salad recipes in it. You inspired me to add some quinoa to them! Thanks again!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

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