Strawberry, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic (c)2013 La Domestique

Happy May Day to you! Here in Ireland, spring has been slow to reveal herself. Though the weather has been unseasonably cool, I do see a bit more sunshine and the breeze feels a tad warmer with each passing day. I’ve been waiting for the morning frosts to depart so I can plant my herb garden. We’re renting a house after years living in the concrete jungle of an apartment complex, so I’m looking forward to having room for growing plants and a shed to store bags of compost and gardening tools. Here in Cavan we’ve got a lovely local bookshop,the Crannóg, where I picked up a copy of Grow Your Own Crops in Pots, by Kay Maguire and the Royal Horticultural Society. Are you into container gardening? Please do share any tips or plants you love to grow in the comments section.

It’s been 1 month since we moved to Ireland, and little by little, we’re getting settled in our new home. We left America with two suitcases each and sold the rest of our possessions. Starting over is a strange feeling, but it sure does lend perspective as to what one really needs. In our lives this truly is spring, a time of regeneration. For my next post here on La Domestique I think I’ll share a peek into my new kitchen space. It’s about to become very busy in there as I get back to developing recipes. May is such an exciting month! I relish the tender salad greens, peppery radishes, tart rhubarb, and freshly harvested asparagus spears. Strawberries are on their way, and before long the perfume of elderflowers will fill the air. It’s all happening!

Today I’ve got a spring salad to share with you. This is the last of the work I did while we lived in the U.S.– the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. After a long winter a tender, leafy salad with generous handfuls of spring herbs is a welcome thing. In this recipe, protein-rich quinoa lends heft, while strawberries and balsamic vinegar pair refreshing sweetness with green leafy spinach. I have a real thing for the Spanish Marcona almonds– to me they are a luxury I truly enjoy. Creamy, tangy goat cheese always makes a salad feel more spring-y, don’t you think? Be generous with the freshly ground black pepper, you’ll be surprised how well the spice compliments the strawberries. Enjoy this salad while sitting in the sun, even better with soft green grass tickling your toes and birds singing in the background.

Ingredients for Strawberry, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (c)2013 La Domestique

Strawberry, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 4


  • 1 cup cooked brown quinoa
  • 3 ounces spinach leaves (or 1 5oz container packaged spinach leaves)
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup Marcona almonds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce soft goat cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, spinach, strawberries, basil and chives. Make the vinaigrette by pouring balsamic vinegar into a medium bowl with a pinch of sea salt and then gradually whisking in the extra virgin olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle almonds and goat cheese over the salad and serve with freshly ground black pepper.


  1. wow only 2 suitcases each?? I can’t wait to see how you have set up your kitchen – glad to hear you are settling in – it has been a bit warmer – although the winds here make it bitterly cold at times – will write more later -!!!! Love your new copper pots also!

    • Elizabeth,

      I’m going to have to do a post on what we packed in those suitcases- kind of like the “what would you take if you’re house was on fire” project! So glad you stopped by La Domestique! Have a great day!

  2. I can’t wait to see your new kitchen, Jess! I’m glad you’re settling in nicely, too. This post, like spring and your lovely salad, is also refreshing. Your two suitcases each move to Ireland makes me smile ear to ear!

    • Nicole,
      It’s pretty crazy– 2 suitcases! It’s just stuff though. Giving everything up was totally worth it. We’re having a great adventure. I’m glad you like the post.

  3. Sounds like Ireland suits you! Yay for fresh starts and rebirth. Can’t wait to see inside your kitchen and where all the magic happens :) As for container gardening, while I do have a large plot, I also grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in pots against my garage – it’s the hottest spot in the yard, and I have to remind myself to water them daily. Good luck!

    • Renee,

      Thanks for sharing about your container gardening. I can’t wait to get started!

  4. Definitely interested in seeing what made the cut for the move. Looking forward to elderflowers- there really is nothing like that smell.

    • Tori,

      I’ve never lived in a place where elderflower is present, so I’m pretty excited about it!

  5. I was trying to find elderflower liqueur for a recipe last year and couldn’t find any so I will be interested too. Can hardly believe you are there, in a house, cooking…wow. It must all be so exciting and it will be fun to see your new life unfold in beautiful Ireland.

    • Sarah,

      How sad that you couldn’t find any elderflower liqueur! St Germain is widely available in liquor stores- did you look for that brand? We must solve this ASAP!! :)

  6. I am a huge goat cheese fan and this spring salad looks so refreshing! Looking forward to seeing your kitchen space.

    • Thanks Amy Jo! I can’t get enough goat cheese this time of year- it just tastes like spring to me.

  7. Jess, I’m glad you’re settling in. So cool that you got rid of most of your stuff and are starting fresh. I bet it feels liberating.
    In terms of planting in pots – I think the key is to feed and water more than ever. I have a very happy kumquat in a pot and I need to water it every few days where my citrus in the ground doesn’t need much.
    I look forward to seeing a peek at your place. It will be fun to see your Irish life.

    • Thanks for the tip, Erin! It’s an awful feeling when you realize your plant is drooping for lack of water.

  8. Good luck to your wonderful new life (we did the same 20+ years ago from Germany to the US) and glad to found your delicious blog. Have to try your lovely recipe with quinoa.

    • Thank you for saying hi! Your site looks fantastic too! Nice to meet you and looking forward to following your adventures.


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