There was the most beautiful looking spinach in my CSA delivery this week.  I was determined to make a salad with it tonight and wanted to pair it with the first batch of fresh PEI strawberries.  I came across the idea to pair the salad with some coconut quinoa from a great blog Sprouted Kitchen.  Spinach, strawberries, oranges, coconut quinoa in a coconut orange dressing.  It was fantastic!

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Oranges and Coconut Quinoa

Serves: 2 dinner, 4 sides

For the quinoa:
1/2 cup of quinoa
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup of water

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of honey dijon mustard
the zest and juice of an orange
1/4 teaspoon of salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
2 cups of fresh spinach
10 strawberries, sliced
1 orange, segmented
1/4 cup of your favourite nut
a handful of sprouts
1 rib of celery, diced
2 small white turnip, diced small

Begin with the quinoa, in a small sauce pot, stir together the quinoa, coconut milk and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool before adding to the salad.

In a mason jar, combine the coconut milk, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, zest and juice of the orange, salt and pepper.  Give it a good shake, until a smooth dressing forms.

To form the salad, begin with the spinach, a scoop of coconut quinoa in the middle.  Add the strawberries, oranges, nuts, celery and top with a small amount of sprouts.  Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of dressing and enjoy! - From Sara's Be Nourished by Food Blog

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Fresh Basil and Greens Pesto
Makes about 2 cups of Pesto

4 garlic cloves
3 cups of packed fresh basil
3 cups of packed fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of your favourite roasted nuts (I tried sunflower seeds today, delicious)
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar or the zest and juice of a fresh lemon
1/2 cup of freshly shredded parmesan
lots of freshly ground pepper

In the bowl of your food processor, give the garlic a head start with a few pulses.  Add the basil, fresh greens and place the lid of the food processor on.  With the food processor running, start to pour the olive oil in slowly.  Toss in your choice of roasted nuts and vinegar or lemon juice and give the food processor a few more pulses to combine.  Lastly add in the shredded parmesan cheese and the freshly ground pepper. Make sure to scape down the sides and give the pesto a few last pulses in the food processor.  Enjoy by adding to your salad dressing, pasta salad, sandwich, roasted vegetable or chicken on the bbq.

A great way to enjoy this fresh pesto is to add it to a sandwich.  We love to add a bit to some fresh bread, top with a slice or two of brie and some tomato.  If you’d like some ooey gooey cheese, top this sandwich with another slice of buttered bread and toast in a frying pan.  Delicious. - From Sara's Be Nourished by Food Blog

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Tonight’s dinner was inspired from a recipe that was given to me by my Aunt.  I loved the idea of this pasta but found it a little plain, so I pumped up the flavour by adding some pesto and white wine vinegar to the dressing and by adding a few more vegetables to the mix.  This gave the pasta salad the boost of flavour that I was craving.  Crisp spinach and fresh basil layered underneath juicy tomatoes accompanied with green onions, fresh mozzarella cheese, hot pasta, and dressing.  It was mouth-watering!

Spinach Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves: 6
Cook time: 15 minutes

For the salad:

1 bunch of fresh spinach, about 4 cups
10-12 large basil leaves, chopped
4 small tomatoes or 10 grape tomatoes, small chop, add more if you really like tomatoes
4 green onions, small dice
10 large slices of fresh mozzarella (you can use any mozzarella, but I like fresh the best)
3-4 cups of freshly cooked hot pasta
For the dressing:
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup of fresh pesto
lots of freshly ground pepper

Start by cooking the pasta and begin to layer the salad in your favourite large serving bowl while the pasta cooks.  The goal is to have the salad ready to top with the hot pasta as soon as it finishes cooking.  Layer the salad in the following order: spinach, basil, tomatoes, green onions and fresh mozzarella.   Stir together the dressing and set aside.

When the pasta is finished cooking, quickly drain and place directly on top of the salad immediately.  Pour the dressing around evenly on top of the pasta.  It’s important not to stir the salad to keep the layers intact.  Cover the bowl for 5-10 minutes, just enough time to warm the cheese and melt it a little.  When serving, I like to just get a big scoop, from top to bottom, making sure to get some of the spinach instead of tossing it together.  This gives the dish an interesting look when serving.  Enjoy!  P.S. leftovers are even better the next day cold, if there is any left. - From Sara's Be Nourished By Food Blog