While pregnant with my little girl, I was on a quest to find a great quinoa salad; after much tinkering, I came up with this. I love this salad because I usually have every ingredient on hand. If I don't have hazelnuts, I add almonds instead. No apples? Pears! No cranberries? Raisins! It's a fairly forgiving and flexible recipe. I recommend using good quality dried cranberries. Craisins work but they tend to turn the salad a pinkish hue after a few hours, and I find they're too sweet. —darksideofthespoon
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Darksideofthespoon is a an ex-pastry chef married to a chef -- needless to say, her family is well-fed. They live in snowy Canada.
WHAT: Autumn's nutty, herby answer to quinoa salad.
HOW: Cook your onion and celery until just-soft, then toss with your quinoa, cranberries, apple, lemon, hazelnut oil, and toasted hazelnuts.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love how thoughtful darksideofthespoon's quinoa salad is: from the just-cooking-through of the onion and celery, to the skinning of the hazelnuts, to the hazelnut oil finish. This might be the perfect brown bag lunch -- or side dish at an elegant autumn dinner party. —The Editors
quinoa, rinsed well
1 1/2 cups
water, for quinoa
of olive oil
small onion, finely diced
stalks of celery, finely diced
hazelnuts, toasted, de-skinned and chopped
(about 5 to 6) green onions, chopped (green parts only)
dried cranberries, chopped * see note
flat leaf parsley, thoroughly rinsed and chopped
gala apple (really, any kind of apple will do)
large lemon, juiced
Generous drizzle of any kind of oil (I like hazelnut)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 325° F and toast your hazelnuts for about 7 to 10 minutes. Let them cool completely. You should begin to hear their skins crackle while cooling; this is a good sign!
Meanwhile, cook your quinoa. Importantly, rinse it well! Boil the water with a pinch of salt, and add your rinsed quinoa. Turn your stove down to medium-low and let it cook for roughly 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and let it cool in the fridge.
Going back to the cooled, toasted hazelnuts; remove the skins. Chop the hazelnuts up, leaving them in large pieces.
Preheat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and soften your finely chopped onion and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Try not to brown them, 5 to 7 minutes on medium—low heat should do the trick. Set aside in a large salad bowl.
Rinse your parsley well and chop it finely followed by your dried cranberries and green onions. Add all this to the onion and celery mixture.
Core and dice the apple, put your apple chunks in the bowl with the other ingredients. Squeeze the entire lemon over the apple to season the salad and prevent the apple from turning brown.
Add your quinoa and hazelnuts to the mixture, drizzle with the oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Season with more lemon juice if you like.
Mix well and cool completely. Allow the flavors to meld for 20 minutes before serving!