January 8, 2013

Quiona Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

For a while now I have been looking for a delicious quinoa recipe that I can make and take to work for lunch. Quinoa is a natural source of protein - and even though I am a meat-eater - I really wanted to try and incorporate it into my lunch routine, because it is a lot easier to pack into a lunch bag than a piece of meat, and it is so incredibly healthy. I was so pleased when my mother-in-law served this dish as a side to our Christmas dinner, as it was exactly what I was looking for: A delicious quinoa-based salad that would be substantial enough to be a stand-alone lunch. I asked for the recipe and she obliged; I am happy to report that I made a big batch and have been eating this for lunch every day this week so far. I can't get enough!

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Gouda

Yield: 6 as a main course, 10 as a side dish

1 1/2 cups quiona, preferably red
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, quartered and sliced crosswise
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups arugula
1 cup Gouda cheese, finely diced
3 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 large crisp red apple, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely diced fennel
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp sherry vinegar {I used red wine vinegar}
1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper

1. Place quinoa in a medium-sized pot and add 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Bring contents of the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiled, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender but still delicately crunchy, about 15 minutes.

2. Drain any remaining water from the pot. Cover and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Once fluffed, allow the quinoa cool to room temperature.

3. While the quinoa is cooling, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of sea salt. Cook this, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and brown around the edges, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, arugula, cheese, celery, apple, walnuts, fennel, and cranberries.

5. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil with the sherry {red wine} vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. mix throughly and add to the salad and gently mix in. If the salad seems dry, add more oilve oil.

When I made this recipe a few nights ago, it was late and I didn't have time to cook the onions, so I left them out. The taste of the salad was still awesome, so don't be afraid to mix and match the ingredients based on what you have available to you and what you have time to toss in. In addition, I don't have any red quinoa, I only have a very large-sized regular bag, so that's what I used. I imagine that red quinoa will change the taste slightly, but not enough for this to make or break the salad. I love it just how it was!

This recipe is originally from Fine Cooking.

Photo Credit: Tastespotting

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