Quinoa Salad With Pears, Toasted Hazelnuts, & Cranberries

We enjoy a wide variety of salads year round and I prefer to use seasonal ingredients whenever I can. Since we are now embracing a predominantly plant based diet, I try and incorporate healthy grains and beans into my salads to improve the nutritional profile by adding fiber, protein, and other nutrients. I also enjoy salads with lots of texture, and grains such as farro, barley, millet and quinoa can turn an ordinary salad into one that is hearty enough to become a main course. The addition of pears, hazelnuts and dried cranberries create a salad that embraces fall, and this salad would be a good choice for a holiday pot luck dinner as it can be completely prepared ahead of time and travels well. We enjoyed this salad for lunch at the beach recently, and I found it improved in flavor after sitting mixed for a few hours.

I was late to join the quinoa bandwagon, but once I discovered quinoa, I have learned to love it and use it often. Quinoa is really a seed, not a grain, although it does act like a grain in most recipes. Including quinoa into your recipes adds a complete protein containing all the necessary amino acids. It is also a great source of fiber, and a decent source of iron, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin E. Those on a gluten free diet can enjoy quinoa as well! I used a mixed tricolored quinoa blend in this salad, but you could use any color of quinoa you prefer.

Quinoa does not require soaking as many grains do, and cooks up in just minutes. To cook quinoa, first rinse a cup of quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, drain and transfer to a medium pot. Add 2 cups water or broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff with a fork.

To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a foil lined baking sheet and bake them in a 350 degree F oven for 8 minutes. Rub the hazelnuts with a kitchen towels to remove most of the skins, then coarsely chop.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Quinoa Salad With Pears, Toasted Hazelnuts, & Cranberries

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Cooked Quinoa (See Notes Above)
  • 2 Medium Pears, Cored & Chopped Into 1/2 Inch Dice & Tossed With 1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 3 Celery Stalks, Cut Into 1/2 Inch Dice
  • 5 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Fresh Parsley Leaves, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts (See Notes Above)

Dressing:

  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Pomegranate Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa and other salad ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, then pour over the salad.
  3. Toss the salad to mix.
  4. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.