I made this quinoa salad months and months and months ago but have put off posting it because I was not at all pleased with how the photos came out. Despite my best editing efforts the whole color and feel of the dish is just way off. I was going to scrap the whole thing and retake photos one of these days but I realized that was stupid.
And I don't have time for stupidity in my life.
This salad has salty bacon, tangy feta, sweet peas and the lightest, most refreshing lemon honey vinaigrette EVER. Mix it all up with some fluffy, super quinoa and you've got yourself a meal. It also makes a really awesome party side dish or to-go lunch (although I do recommend leaving the vinaigrette on the side until you're ready to dig in).
Pea and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings (as a side)
2 strips bacon, chopped into small bits
8 shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen (and thawed)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped small
1/2 cup slivered or chopped almonds
For the dressing:
Juice from 2 large lemons
Zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons honey (more to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. When pan is hot add chopped bacon bits. Allow bacon to cook until crispy (approximately 5-6 minutes), stirring frequently. When bacon is fully cooked, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel using a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet.
Reduce heat to medium and carefully add the diced shallots to the skillet with the bacon grease (bacon fat likes to splatter, so take care) and stir. Cook shallots for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and mix well, cooking for an additional 1 minute. Add peas to the skillet and gently stir to incorporate. Continue to cook just until peas are heated/cooked through. Remove from heat.
While peas rest, whisk together each ingredient for the vinaigrette, adding additional salt or honey as needed. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl mix together the feta cheese, cooked quinoa, fresh cilantro and chopped almonds. Gently mix in the pea mixture and cooked bacon bits. Toss with the lemon honey vinaigrette or serve dressing on the side. Serve warm or cold.