For me, it’s always about the sides. I could make a meal out of side dishes and to be honest, I have, many times. This Christmas quinoa salad has what I think of as wintertime flavours: dried cranberries, crispy crunchy pears, toasted pecans, and oranges. It comes together quickly and is a perfect light and fresh counterpoint to all the hot dishes that are at the table at Christmas.
The best part of this salad is its double duty: it can be a hearty lunch or a side at dinner. Sometimes at the beginning of the week I’ll make a big container and leave it in the fridge for those busy days when I don’t have time to make something from scratch. If there’s any left at dinner time, it goes great with roasted chicken or even Swedish meatballs. For some reason I really like quinoa with meatballs. Is that weird? One year I did a holiday dinner where everything was in ball shape: turkey balls four ways, stuffing balls, mashed potato balls, mac and cheese balls. It was equal parts weird and genius. What do you think: would you come over for some balls and this salad?!
Quinoa Salad Recipe with Cranberries, Pecans, Pears and an Orange Honey Vinaigrette
inspired by this Food52 recipe
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
- 1-2 teaspoons oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 pears, cored and diced
- 1/2 cup green onions
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Rinse and cook the quinoa. If you have a tried and true method, stick with it! This is how I cook mine: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and drain well. Lightly toast in a non-stick pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, transfer to a large bow, fluff and let cool.
In a skillet, heat up the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until tender, but not browned. Remove from the heat and add to the quinoa. Add the pecans, cranberries, pears and green onions. Toss until mixed well. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, zest and honey. Taste, season with salt and pepper and adjust if needed. Toss the salad with the dressing and let sit for 20 minutes for the flavours to meld. Enjoy!