This Lemon Shrimp + Quinoa-Lentil Salad is a delicious and healthy recipe that works as a side dish or a main course!
Valentine’s Day is just a week away now. While I really enjoy the V-Day festivities, I’m getting a bit tired of all the desserts. I can’t believe I actually just typed that sentence. Me…tired of dessert…what the heck is going on?? With all of the cakes and cookies coming out of the Spiced kitchen lately, I think I’ve grown a bit spoiled. I needed a small break from the sweets, so the other night I decided to throw together a healthy dinner for my wife and myself. I found some shrimp in the freezer, and I had a fresh bag of quinoa in the cupboard…and the next thing I knew I had this Lemon Shrimp + Quinoa-Lentil Salad staring back at me. After all of the Valentine’s Day desserts and general winter comfort foods, this Mediterranean-inspired dish was like a ray of bright sunshine on a cold winter day! (Now if only that ray of sunshine would go ahead and melt some of the snow on my back porch, then I’d be a really happy camper.)
Have you ever tried quinoa? It’s a relatively new grain to me, so I did a bit of research on it. I found out that it’s actually a seed, but it often gets grouped into the whole grain category because it’s cooked in a similar way as many grains. Sometimes quinoa gets a bad rap, but I find it to be pretty darn delicious…especially when you toast the quinoa first. I still crack up laughing at the commercial where the guy’s wife sends him off to tailgate with quinoa burgers and he convinces himself that they’re the reason why his team is winning. Love it!
Ever since I’ve known her, my wife has been into healthy eating. In fact, on our first date back in Atlanta, we met at a dog park and then I tagged along with her to a local farmer’s market. She’s quick to remind me that I only bought a bag of oranges on that trip while she filled her cart to the brim with all sorts of healthy and delicious foods. Hey, gimme a break…I just wanted some freshly-squeezed orange juice! (And I might have just been looking for a way to extend the date a little longer, too.) Either way, I have to give my wife some credit for this recipe, too. It was her idea to add the craisins and lentils…and she nailed it! I was nervous about adding craisins to this salad, but the relatively small amount adds a slight sweetness that is really quite tasty. And the lentils add a wonderful texture, too.
Lemon Shrimp + Quinoa-Lentil Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- ¾ cup dried split lentils
- 2 cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup white onion diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 bunch of asparagus spears trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 4 sundried tomatoes chopped
- ¼ tsp salt
- olive oil for finishing
- fresh black pepper to taste
- In a medium saute or frying pan, toast the quinoa over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. (The quinoa will make a popping noise and begin to turn dark near the end.)
- Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, add the 3/4 cup lentils with 1.5 cups of water. Stir, and bring mixture to rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes, adding enough water to keep the lentils covered (if necessary). Once cooked, strain lentils and set aside.
- Once quinoa has been toasted, add stock and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the stock has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 2-3 more minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, toast the sliced almonds for 5-6 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Set toasted almonds aside.
- Add minced garlic and diced onions with 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the frying pan. Sauté over medium heat, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes, or until garlic begins to turn dark in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, brush a frying pan or grill pan with a small amount of vegetable oil. Add asparagus and cook over medium heat for 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set asparagus aside. Using the same pan, add the raw shrimp and cook until done (~2 minutes per side). Once cooked, season asparagus and shrimp lightly with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and lentils. Add the parsley, dried cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sundried tomatoes, salt, toasted almonds, and sauteed garlic and onion. Stir until well mixed. Top with sautéed shrimp and asparagus. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.