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Quinoa Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dijon Dressing

One of my favorite ways to prepare quinoa is as a part of this healthy salad. Shredded carrots, blanched green beans, pecans, dried cranberries, purple onions, and of course, quinoa, are all tossed in a savory and sweet balsamic dijon dressing. Colorful and very fresh, this is a tasty side dish or light lunch.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of tricolored quinoa (or quinoa of your choosing)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 a large purple onion cut into thirds and thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots peeled
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup whole raw pecans roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces of fresh green beans washed and trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder optional
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped scallions for garnish optional

Instructions

  • Prepare a medium large saucepan with 4 cups of water on the stove, no heat.
  • Rinse the 2 cups of quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold water while mixing with your hand for 3 minutes (this washes away the bitterness and lets you pull out any small stones - yes, this happens!).
  • Take your rinsed quinoa and place in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Toast the quinoa for 10-15 minutes, drying the seeds and bringing out the nutty flavor - don't burn them!
  • Once toasted, transfer the seeds to the saucepan full of water. Bring the quinoa and water to a full boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water has evaporated.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, bring a small saucepan filled halfway with water up to a boil. Dump the green beans into the water to blanch for 3 minutes.
  • While the beans cook, take a medium mixing bowl and fill with ice and cold water.
  • After the 3 minutes is up, immediately transfer the green beans from the boiling water to the ice bath to stop the cooking process and to maintain the vibrant green color. Set aside.
  • Using a food processor with the grater attachment or a regular box grater, grate the carrots. Peel and finely chop the onion, roughly chop the pecans, and measure out the dried cranberries. Reserve.
  • Take the blanched green beans and cut 1 inch pieces on an angle and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add the dressing (see below for recipe). Add the garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Allow the assembled salad to cool to room temperature and then chill, covered, for at least 2 hours so the flavors can blend. I prefer to chill overnight. This salad is best on day #2 and will keep in the fridge for about 5 days in a covered container.