Meatless Monday: High-Protein Pilaf

This entry was posted on Aug 22, 2016 by Charlotte Bell.

meatless mondayA few days ago I was asked to bring a favorite grain or bean salad to a dinner. Not knowing which to make, I decided on a salad that has both.

But here’s a fun fact: Quinoa isn’t actually a grain. It is the seed from the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. It is often classified as a grain because we cook it the same way we cook grains, but it is, in fact, part of a subcategory called “pseudograins.”

No matter. Besides its earthy taste and toothsome texture, quinoa is a complete protein. Paired it with chickpeas and feta, the quinoa salad below is a protein-packed one-dish meal.

I’ve riffed on this recipe, originally inspired by Bon Appetit magazine, sometimes playing with the proportions, but I’ve never felt a need to add or subtract ingredients. It’s quite good as is.

This recipe makes a LOT of food, so it’s great to share at a potluck. You will likely have plenty to eat at home as well.

Quinoa-Chickpea Salad

  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa (any color)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1-1/3 cup cubed English cucumber (I used peeled lemon cucumber this time.)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 7 ounces feta cheese (I used fresh goat feta from Drake Family Farms.)


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2-1/2 t smoked paprika
  1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, return to a boil, then turn down the heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until done. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine the spinach, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mint leaves, chickpeas and feta in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Add the quinoa to the vegetables and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the dressing a little at a time, mixing and then adding more to make sure all the ingredients are coated.



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About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.