It’s cherry season! This summer quinoa salad is a great way to highlight the sweetness of these bright red cherries. It comes together quickly and makes a great lunch or a side dish for a light summer dinner.
product samples provided by Stemilt Growers. all thoughts and opinions are all my own.
This is one of my favorite kinds of blog posts. It all started with an inspiration piece I tore out of a magazine. Like many of you who love food, I read a lot of cooking magazines. They are a great place to find new recipes as well as inspiration for new blog posts. I have piles of magazine pages laying around my house – some are recipes inspiration, some are photography inspiration and some are things I just want to cook for dinner!
I tore this one out thinking it would make an excellent summer lunch, then somehow the recipe and the photo got separated. I’m sure I could have Googled it to find the recipe but it seemed more fun to create my own version – you know how much I enjoy doing that!
This summer quinoa salad gives you protein from the quinoa and the nuts and a serving of fruit from the cherries. The mild, slightly sweet flavor of the red onions combined with the honey dressing complement the cherries and bring out even more flavor. Top this dish off with some microgreens and you have the ultimate summer meal!
One of the reason’s this caught my eye in the magazine was the cherries. Cherries are such a wonderful summer fruit and I don’t eat them nearly as often as I would like. As luck would have it right around the time I started working on this recipe the team at Stemilt Growers contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in checking out their Skylar Rae® cherries.
Unlike most sweet cherries, these cherries have an orange-red to bright red hue. Making them a true expression of summer!
How to Make Fluffy Quinoa
Quinoa is considered a superfood. Its got a high protein content and it’s sweet, nutty flavor and light texture make an excellent base or add-in for salads. And nice fluffy quinoa is the key to any quinoa-based salad or dish! And starting with the right quinoa to water ratio is what gets you there. Most packages of quinoa call for a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. This is actually more water than you need and can make your quinoa mushy and sometimes even clumpy. This is especially true if you are making a salad and will be adding vinaigrette which is more moisture.
The ratio I’ve found that works the best is about 1 1/2 cups of liquid for every cup of quinoa. Cooking time will vary slightly depending on your cooking top and how much quinoa you are making at one time but it should generally be 15-20 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Once all the liquid has absorbed and the quinoa is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit with the lid on for at least 10 minutes.
If you are cooking quinoa as a side dish or won’t be putting vinaigrette or some dressing on it, you may want to cook it in chicken or vegetable broth for additional flavor. I don’t do that when I’m making salads or just a big batch for the week as I want the flexibility to add flavorings specific to each dish.
Do you have to rinse quinoa?
Now for the great debate – do you really need to rinse quinoa before cooking it? Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that can make the cooked grain taste somewhat bitter. So the short answer to the question is you probably should. That said, I rarely do. A lot of packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed so you maybe be duplicating efforts. Try to find a brand that is and to you doesn’t have a bitter tasted once it cooked and you can skip the rinsing set. It’s not hard to rise it, but if you don’t have a really fine strainer it can be a little bit of a pain so if you don’t have to do it your life will just be a little easier!
things you may want for this recipe
Paring Knife – A nice sharp paring knife is very useful for removing the pits from the cherries. You could always get a cherry pitter, but unless you eat a LOT of cherries this is probably not something you really need to have in your kitchen and the paring knife has many more uses, making it a much more practical kitchen tool.
Honey Quinoa with Cherries + Cashews
Yield 2 salads
It's cherry season! This summer quinoa salad is a great way to highlight the sweetness of these bright red cherries. It comes together quickly and makes a great lunch or a side dish for a light summer dinner.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh sweet cherries, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup roasted and salted cashews
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- dash of pepper
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup microgreens
- Add the quinoa and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
- Once all the liquid has absorbed and the quinoa is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit with the lid on for at least 10 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking mix the honey, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.
- To assemble the salad, split the quinoa between two bowls. Top with cherries, cashews and red onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing and carefully toss to coat. Sprinkle the microgreens over the top of the salad and serve.
If you can't find microgreens you can use chopped butter lettuce instead. If you use butter lettuce add it to the bowl before you add the quinoa.