Craisin Walnut Quinoa Salad

When I first heard about quinoa, the new "superfood", I wanted to find ways to incorporate it into our diet, but I didn't really know how. I tried some quinoa-stuffed peppers that were just okay, and a salad that was pretty all right. But when I tried this sweet salad, I was in love. This is the best way to eat quinoa. The flavors are so delicious together - the sweetness of the craisin, the nutty toasted walnuts, and the onion all come together to make something magical. And really, really addicting.

I never would have thought I would say this about a quinoa salad. But you guys, I am OBSESSED with this dish. It is so good. A friend served it at a Sunday lunch and I loved it so much, I bought the ingredients the following day and made it that night. After tasting it, I knew I would want more than just one batch, and I wiped out the pot and immediately made another batch (it's so easy and quick that you can do that!). We ate this for lunch all that week, and then I made it AGAIN the following week because I still wasn't tired of it and was craving more!

I love that this is a pretty guilt-free obsession, I know I'm feeding my body whole grains and plant-based protein while also having something that tastes delicious. But I also love how customizable this is. The first time I made it, I used walnuts (which I think is best), but the second time (pictured above) I used toasted almonds, and also added chopped broccoli, and it turned out amazing. You could also add chopped celery or grapes, or really any chopped greens you desire. I mixed this with baby spinach a few times and it was great as well. Do your body and your tastebuds a favor and make this!

Craisin Walnut Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

{Disclaimer: I do not have exact amounts for any of these ingredients except the quinoa and cooking liquid. Everything else, I guesstimated the amounts shown above. I just threw enough in until it looked about right. Use the amounts in my ingredient list as a guide, but if it looks like it needs a little more craisins, nuts, onion, whatever, adjust the amounts to your liking.}

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, add dry quinoa and toast for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until quinoa smells nutty. Add water and chicken broth (I use two cups of water and throw in a chicken boullion cube) and bring to a boil. Stir in the craisins. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and liquid is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, spread chopped nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 400 degrees for a few minutes, taking care not to burn.

Toss cooked quinoa with nuts, chopped onion, and any other desired ingredients (chopped broccoli, celery, grapes, etc). Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting amounts to desired taste. Pour over salad and stir.

This can be served warm, which is delicious, or chilled and served cold. If serving later, it's best to mix in the chopped nuts right before serving. They do keep in the fridge for several days, but they're best mixed in right before serving.

Recipe from Abby Curran.

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