Saturday, July 14, 2012

CPK-Style Quinoa Salad with Arugula

A good friend of mine and I get together for lunch twice a year at the California Pizza Kitchen. We get together to celebrate our birthdays, but of course we usually go months after one of us has a birthday (darn busy schedules)! Holly had a birthday at the end of April, and we got around to going out just last week. The CPK has phenomenal salads. Sometimes I think it should change its name to the California Salad Kitchen, but I guess that really doesn't have the same type of ring to it!

We usually get the Miso salad and share it, but they recently removed crab from the salad, and that was one of my favorite parts. So I tried something new last week off of their "new menu items" list. I ordered an amazingly good quinoa salad with arugula and other tasty treats tossed in a vinaigrette. I decided right then and there that I had to try to recreate it in my kitchen. I recreated it last night - and the results were good!

I think many people are probably familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), but if not you can learn more about this superfood here. You'll feel great while eating this salad, since quinoa is very high in fiber and protein. You'll also enjoy the delicious taste of the salad...

Greg told me that it tasted exactly like something you would eat at a really nice restaurant. So, I guess you could pretty much say that I accomplished my goal! Now I just wish that it would be that easy to accomplish so many of my other goals...

I hope you enjoy the quinoa salad recipe!

Recipe for CPK-Style Quinoa Salad
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

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!

The CPK quinoa salad is made with a champagne vinaigrette. Since I didn't have any champagne vinegar, I made the red wine vinaigrette. I think it worked just as well! I also omitted the red onions from the recipe.


  1. Thank you so much for this recipe. Enjoyed making it and came out great! Want to try more of your recipes.
    -- Jesse (NYC)

  2. Thanks, Jesse! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the quinoa salad recipe. Would love to hear your thoughts about any other recipes you try out. -B

  3. what in the world is the delicious looking treat photo in the top of your blog?!

  4. Hi Amy - the photo is of Banana Oatmeal Cookies with coconut & chocolate chips. The cookie in the photo is topped with a little bit of Nutella. You can find the recipe on the blog - it should be listed in the crowd favorites on the right-hand side. Enjoy!

  5. Hi! Loving your blog. Just a short mention, i believe there is also small brunoise cuts of purple onion in the salad. :) I've also used champagne vinegar and it comes out just lovely!

    -Elvira, Mistress of the Pot (lol, that's my baby blog).

    1. Thanks! I didn't realize there was purple onion in the salad at the CPK! It's such a good salad. I'm hoping to eat out there this coming weekend - I don't know if I want to order the salad or try another fun menu item!

  6. Hi Beth! I was craving this salad the other day and the wonderful world of Google brought me to your blog! I featured your recipe on my blog today (with proper credit!) I hope this is okay! Salad turned out awesome!!


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