When I was pregnant with my daughter, Madeline, I was always on the hunt for easy salads that were healthy, quick to make and filling! And this recipe always hit the spot both while pregnant and nursing. Chock full of good-for-you ingredients, this salad is nicely balanced and well rounded enough to be a proper meal. And it’s very simple to make – something equally important as a mom-to-be and a new mom short on time and energy.

As a registered dietitian, I can’t help but feel compelled to share the health benefits of this salad. Spinach, a true nutrient powerhouse, is low in calories, rich in vitamin and minerals – especially the all-important folate – and is a good source of fiber, helping us feel full and satisfied. Since I always suggest that my clients pair protein and fiber (found in quinoa, pears and pistachios) with healthy fats (found in olive oil and olives) for more staying power, this salad, of course, includes all three.

I hope you love this dish as much as I do!

Spinach Salad with Quinoa, Toasted Pistachios and Cranberries

(adapted from Megan’s new book, Great Meals with Greens and Grains)

Serves 4


Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press or very well minced

1/4 tsp salt (or more to your taste)


1/4 cup (43 g) quinoa

1 cup (240 ml) water

1/2 cup (69 g) shelled pistachios

10 oz (280 g) baby spinach

1 medium Anjou pear

1/2 cup (61 g) dried sweetened cranberries

1/2 cup (67 g) pitted and sliced Cerignola olives

Salt to taste

How to make it:


  • For the Lemon vinaigrette, whisk all of the ingredients together.
  • Combine the quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and cook another 10 minutes, or until the quinoa has softened and the water has evaporated; set aside.
  • Toast the pistachios in a small skillet over low heat until they are just golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes; set aside.
  • Place the spinach in a large bowl. Thinly slice the pear and add it to the bowl along with the cranberries and olives.
  • Just prior to serving, add the toasted pistachios and cooked quinoa, toss with the lemon vinaigrette and season to taste with salt.
  • Serve family style or in individual bowls or on plates.

Tip: Getting the garlic very finely minced or crushed will help the flavor dissipate so that instead of biting into a piece of raw garlic, the salad is nicely seasoned with a garlic essence.