The colors in this quinoa salad will add a festive note to a holiday meal—and it can be prepared in advance so the cooks can devote last-minute preparations to the main course. Quinoa, native to the Andes Mountains, is related to the weed lambs quarters and has been part of the diet of the people who live on the mountain plateaus of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile for five thousand years. Quinoa is a highly nutritious food with protein that’s superior to other more common cereal grains. Best of all, quinoa has a nutty, earthy taste. A vinaigrette made with a medium extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar complements the nutty quinoa and pistachios.–Fran Gage
LC Beige But Not Bland Note
Don’t let the benign beige appearance of quinoa mislead you into thinking it’s bland. Oh no. Quinoa possesses an irresistible nuttiness that’s an able backdrop for just about anything. Use it anywhere you’d use rice, couscous, even, in the case of dressings, cubes of day-old bread. (You may, however, need to tweak the amount of liquid. Hey, we said it wasn’t boring. Not that it was a no-brainer.)
Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Cranberries Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes, not including cooling | Serves 4
- For the sherry vinaigrette
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) not overly robust extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- For the quinoa salad
- 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounce) shelled pistachios
- 1 cup (6 1/4 ounces) quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- Make the sherry vinaigrette
- 1. Place the shallots, vinegar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper into a small deep bowl, a coffee mug, or a 1-cup measure. Slowly pour 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil into the bowl, beating constantly with a fork. Beat in the water, then the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Make the quinoa salad
- 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Arrange the pistachios in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan and toast until you can just detect their aroma and they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let them cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop the pistachios.
- 3. Toast the quinoa in a skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until it just begins to brown, starts to crackle, and smells a bit toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a pot, add the water and the salt, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the quinoa is soft but still has a little texture left in its center, about 15 minutes. The water should be completely absorbed.
- 4. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and let cool. Add the pistachios, celery, scallions, and cranberries and toss. Dress the salad with the sherry vinaigrette. (If not serving immediately, refrigerate the salad but allow a little time to bring it to room temperature before serving.)
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini from 101 Cookbooks
- Cranberry Raisin Quinoa with Yogurt from Poor Girl Eats Well
- Pinto Bean, Quinoa, and Wild Rice Wrap from Leite's Culinaria
- Wild Rice with Mushrooms, Cranberries, and Walnut Oil from Leite's Culinaria
Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Cranberries Recipe © 2009 Fran Gage. Photo © 2009 Maren Caruso. All rights reserved.