California Pizza Kitchen Quinoa Salad with Arugula

A friend of mine and I used to get together for lunch twice a year at the California Pizza Kitchen. We would get together to celebrate our birthdays, but of course we would usually go months after one of us had a birthday (darn busy schedules)! We always enjoyed the phenomenal salad at the California Pizza Kitchen.

We would usually get the Miso Salad, but when they removed the crab from the salad, I had to try something new. This quinoa salad was new at the time when we dined there and it was delicious. When I got home, I recreated the recipe at in my kitchen.

Quinoa is a superfood with tons of fiber and protein, and it tastes wonderful in this salad. You will love the healthy feel of the salad and the yummy flavors! I was told after making it that it tasted like something you would order at a really nice restaurant, so that means I definitely accomplished my goal! It has been awhile since I made this, but I cannot wait for warmer days so I can recreate this one again. I hope you will also give it a try! Enjoy.

Recipe for California Pizza Kitchen Quinoa Salad with Arugula

INGREDIENTS

For the salad:
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
8 sun dried tomatoes in oil, cut small; plus 1 tsp. of oil from the sun dried tomatoes
3 ounces of feta cheese, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cups of baby arugula leaves
1 bunch of asparagus, stalks cut off, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 Tbsp. of toasted pine nuts

For the dressing:
1/3 cup of Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
1/8 tsp. of dried oregano leaves
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Wash the quinoa and then cook according to package directions. Once quinoa finishes cooking, drain any excess water. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and set aside to cool.

While quinoa is cooling, prepare the dressing. In a smallish bowl, mix together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, oregano, and pepper. Mix well.

Once quinoa has cooled, add the sun dried tomatoes, sun dried tomato oil, feta cheese, and dressing to the bowl. Toss well to  coat. Cover bowl and put into the fridge for about 30 – 45 minutes.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve salad, steam the asparagus. Put asparagus in a large saucepan and cover just barely with water. Put over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Asparagus is done when you can prick it through with a fork, but still tender. Don’t let it get too soft. Once asparagus is finished cooking, drain the water and transfer the asparagus to a plate to cool.

While the asparagus is cooling, toast the pine nuts.

When ready to serve the salad, take bowl out of the fridge. Mix in the 1 1/2 cups of baby arugula and toss. Divide the salad between 3 – 4 serving plates. Top each plate with asparagus and toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

NOTE:
The California Pizza Kitchen quinoa salad recipe was made with a champagne vinaigrette. I think the red wine vinaigrette works just as well. I also omitted the red onions from the recipe, but you might want to add them to yours!!

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