Friday, November 1, 2013

cranberry walnut quinoa salad with orange vinaigrette

'Tis the season when we're gathering with family and friends... and sometimes we're asked to bring a little something along to contribute to the feast. There's a chill in the air, the leaves are turning (or maybe there's already snow on the ground where you are!), and comfort foods are the norm at many of these gatherings. With that in mind, I like to bring something healthy-- that's quick and easy to whip up-- as my potluck contribution. I recently made this quinoa salad to rave reviews. It is so good {and good for you!}. While it's really, really simple to make, the flavors and different textures make it special enough to be a part of your next gathering, or holiday feast. Plus, it can be made up to three days ahead, making it a perfect recipe for the busy holiday season.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
(makes 8-10 servings)

4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken, or you can use water)
2 cups (12 oz) quinoa
6 scallions, white parts chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar 
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring 4 cups of broth (or water) and 2 cups of quinoa to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes). While the quinoa is cooking combine rest of ingredients (scallions, cranberries, walnuts, fresh mint, orange zest and juice, olive oil and vinegar) in a mixing bowl. When the quinoa is cooked, add the warm quinoa to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine flavors. Serve warm or room temp. May be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. In fact it's even better after the flavors have had a chance to meld for a day+!

While the quinoa cooked, I chopped, zested and juiced the rest of the ingredients.

Once it was done cooking, the warm quinoa was added to the mixing bowl and everything was stirred to combine the ingredients.

Done! So easy, so delicious-- and so healthy!! 
  • You can serve this quinoa salad warm or room temp. 
  • You substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds if you need it to be nut-free.
  • This is a perfect vegetarian offering-- full of protein {quinoa} and good fat {walnuts and olive oil} and wonderful flavors.
  • You could also add chopped cooked chicken breast, tofu or grilled shrimp to make it even heartier. 
Hope you and your friends enjoy this new recipe as much as we did!

For more of my make-ahead meal ideas that can be whipped out when the guests arrive, you might like to check out the "Stock Your Freezer in a Snap" program, which is full of casual, comforting dinners.

Hope you have a relaxed holiday season, full of good food, family and friends!

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