"Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruits is a great healthy side dish that the whole family will love. A combination of quinoa, dried cranberries, cherries, and apricot, along with some finely sliced baby celery and minced parsley - all tossed together with a tasty simple orange juice dressing - it's healthy, refreshing, and darn tasty too."
The Story Behind Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruits
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is, as you probably already know, an ancient grain that is gluten-free. High in protein, it's a member of the spinach and tumbleweed family. The outside coating of quinoa is slightly bitter so it's best if you wash it prior to cooking. My favorite method to wash quinoa is to put it into a fine sieve and then dip that into a large bowl of water; agitate it around, lift the sieve out of the water, drain the water (throw it into your plants or some other useful place that is needing some water, very important to us in drought land), refresh the water and do it again, 2 more times.
Cooking Quinoa - the Pasta Way
If you've not cooked Quinoa yet, it's really very simple. As simple as cooking rice. For this recipe, I cooked it like I do my pasta by bringing a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, adding my rinsed quinoa, and boiling it for 15 to 20 minutes or until the quinoa was tender. The quinoa was drained into a sieve and then I ran some cold water over it to cool it down. I drained it well and then proceeded with my recipe.
Adding Dried Fruits, Nuts and Freshness
While the quinoa was cooking, I prepped my dried fruits and the celery. The celery added a little crunch that I thought was a necessary element. And brightness too. I used the tender inside stalks and sliced them thinly. I didn't want large pieces of anything in the salad as the quinoa is so small and I like to keep my food all about the same size. It's more pleasant to eat that way, and it looks prettier too. And of course, parsley always adds a fresh element.
For the dried fruits, I used dried cranberries, Bing cherries, and apricot. The cranberries I left whole, the cherries I cut into halves and the apricot I cut into a dice. Because dried fruit is so sticky, I find the easiest way to cut them is to use a pair of kitchen scissors, just make sure you wash them first (the scissors, not the fruit).
The Finishing Touch - Dressing
Turning to the dressing, I wanted something light and fresh - there sitting on the counter were some tangelos; so I used them. You could use an orange, a tangerine, tangelo, or any type of orangy citrus. The orange flavor just is such a nice compliment to the fruits. Just squeeze about ⅓ cup of orange juice into the bowl over the salad ingredients, mix it about, then add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, and mix it together. As always, taste and adjust.
This salad can be served immediately or put into the refrigerator for a while to allow the flavors to fully blend. Take it out and bring it to room temperature before you serve it.
Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruits
- For the Salad
- 2 cups cooked cooled quinoa
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup dried sweet cherries cut into halves
- ½ cup dried apricot halves cut into pieces the same size as the cranberries and cherries
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced tender celery heart
- ¼ cup toasted almond slices or you could use toasted walnut pieces or pecan pieces
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- Pinch of salt
- For the Dressing
- ⅓ to ½ cup fresh orange tangerine or tangelo juice
- 1 - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Mix your salad ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the orange juice over, and toss, then add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil; toss. Taste and add a bit more oil if you think it needs it. Let set if possible for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for a longer period of time. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- LindySez: When I'm giving measurements (which of course are NOT written in stone, add more of what you like or less of what you don't) I'm giving you the measurement for the whole fruit, not after it's been cut. So a large handful of dried apricots is about ½ cup…see?