Quinoa and spinach salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette

The first Monday of the month means  it is time for our secret recipe club reveal. I always look forward to sharing my recipe choice with the group. Keeping a secret for a month, sneaking around your assigned blog, looking for inspiration is fun but sharing your creation with the others and finding out what the person who was assigned to my blog made is the part I love the most.

Spinach and quinoa salad with smoky paprika dressing2

My assignment for March was Melissa’s blog, a fit and spicy life. Melissa describes herself as a “30 something, food loving, weight lifting, traveling, yogi blogger and FitFluential Ambassador living in the Twin Cities.” She is a marketing manager by day,food blogger by night and weekend.Melissa has 2 sweet dogs she calls her family and on her blog she shares recipes, fitness tips and a little about her life in the Twin cities.

dressing 2

I loved going through her archives, as always that is the best part of any Secret recipe club challenge. Choosing just one recipe is always a problem, I usually bookmark a few, share them with the kids and together we choose THE ONE!

This time around, I had a nasty flu, I was coughing and sneezing all day long and all I could think of was, something healthy, loaded with nutrients, colorful to cheer me up and loaded with flavor. I saw Melissa’s quinoa and spinach salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette and made it on the spot!

Melissa says that this recipe is one of the most popular on her blog and I can totally see why. The salad is a beautiful balance of colors and textures, filling without being overwhelming.

Quinoa  and spinach salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette

Quinoa and spinach salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette


  • 1 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/4 cups water for cooking the quinoa
  • 2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 unpeeled cucumber, cut into small cubes
  • 1tomato cut into cubes or a few grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 1  cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • You can find a detailed post on how to cook quinoa with FAQ about its benefits here
  • Place quinoa in large pot
  • Add enough 1 and 1/4 cups of water,bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until quinoa absorbs the water completely (15 to 16 minutes).
  • Turn off the heat, allow it to rest covered for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Allow to cool
  • Combine spinach leaves, garbanzos, cubed cucumber, halved tomatoes, mint leaves, and half of feta cheese in extra-large bowl.
  • Add cooled quinoa and toss gently to blend.
  • Whisk vinegar, lemon juice and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  • Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle remaining feta over.