Recipe: Quinoa Salad

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I make this recipe all the time. It's great to bring  to a party or potluck.  It's always popular and pretty much takes as long to make it as it takes the quinoa to cook.  That is, under 1/2 hour.  Also, it's a very adaptable recipe.  Feel free to add vegetables  (brussel sprouts, sauteed spinach or other greens, shredded or roasted carrots to name a few) and a crumbly cheese like feta or blue cheese.  For the cranberries and almonds, I start with 1/4 cup but I would say you can go as high as 1/2 cup.  And to be honest, I just added the sliced spinach to the top for color for the photo so I didn't put it in the recipe below. Serves 4 as a side or 2 for lunch Ingredients :::: 1 c uncooked quinoa 1 3/4 c water 1/2 teas salt 1 T olive oil 1 large shallot, minced 1/4+ c dried cranberries 1/4+ c almonds, chopped more salt smoked paprika zest and juice of one lemon Toast your quinoa in the pan you plan to cook it in.  To do this, turn the heat on medium-low.  Give it a shake every couple minutes so it doesn't burn and to evenly toast it.  Once it's turned a golden brown, add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 19 minutes (I'm sure 20 would be just fine, but I always do 19 for some reason). While the quinoa is cooking, use a small frying pan and saute the shallots over low heat for about 5 minutes or until golden.  Add the cranberries at the last minute or two to absorb some of the flavor and moisture from the cooking oil and shallots.  Remove the shallots & cranberries from the pan and use the same pan, along with the residual oil to toast the almonds.  Once they're well-toasted, add a sprinkling of salt and smoked paprika and remove from heat.  Add shallots & berries to the cooked quinoa along with lemon juice and zest and sprinkle the nuts over the top when ready to eat---otherwise they'll lose their crispiness.