Asparagus Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Celebrate spring with this salad recipe from the MGH Be Fit program.  Leftovers work well for a quick lunch—just keep the dressing separate and add before eating, so the greens don’t wilt.  You can also add a hard-boiled egg to further increase the protein in this recipe.


For the lemon vinaigrette
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
2½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 bunch asparagus (15 to 20 spears), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 large handfuls of arugula
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

To make the vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake until thoroughly combined (or whisk together in a small bowl). Taste vinaigrette; add salt and pepper as needed.

To make the salad:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. Let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. (If your quinoa still has water in it simply strain it out.) Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
While the quinoa is cooking, sauté asparagus in olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes.

To assemble the salad:
Combine the cooked quinoa with asparagus, chickpeas, arugula, and scallions. Top with vinaigrette and feta cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 390 • Protein: 10g • Sodium: 240mg • Carbohydrate: 31g • Fiber: 7g •
Fat: 26g • Sat Fat: 5g

Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Sample the Fruits (and Veggies) of the Season

Basket of fresh vegetablesWith longer days, warmer weather and no big snowstorms on the horizon (we hope), the change in season is perfect excuse for spending more time outside and giving your routine a little pick-me-up.  Why not add some new flavors to your menu as well with some seasonal fruits and vegetables?  Buying fruits and vegetables in season often ensures your produce is fresher and more flavorful.

Strawberries and blueberries are good sources of vitamin C, a nutrient that supports the immune system.  Although strawberries and blueberries are available year round in some form (dried, frozen, etc), peak season for both is April-June.  Fresh strawberries can be added to cereal or eaten on their own as a sweet, healthy snack.  Blueberries are often added to pancakes and muffins, but they can also use them to dress up plain yogurt.  Or, combine both strawberries and blueberries together with yogurt and other fruit for a refreshing smoothie or parfait.

While shopping for your spring berries, why not grab a bundle of asparagus as well?  Also reaching peak season around April, asparagus can be eaten by itself as a seasonal side dish or mixed with other vegetables and lean protein in a spring salad or stir-fry.  Asparagus is a good source of folate, a nutrient shown to support heart health and is crucial for pregnant women.  Artichokes, another popular spring vegetable, are another good source of folate.  Whole artichokes can be steamed and served with vinaigrette, melted butter or other sauce to dip the leaves in, while artichoke hearts—the soft center of the bud—can be used in pasta dishes or salads.

This is just a sample of the fruits and vegetables that will be coming into season soon; cherries, beets, radish and cantaloupe are also popular spring produce items.  Your local supermarket probably has a good selection of fruits and vegetables, but did you know that you can find many seasonal fruits and vegetables at you local farmers’ market?

Buying produce at a farmers’ market can save you money since you’re buying direct from the grower.  It’s often fresher too, since locally grown produce doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate.  There are a number of farmers’ markets in Massachusetts; use this tool from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to find one near you.  Unfortunately, the growing season in New England doesn’t start until June, but this chart gives an overview of what produce you can expect to be available locally each month.

(Information reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department)