quinoa salad with cashews, cranberries, and mint

P1000343Your requests for quinoa recipes have not fallen on deaf ears. During these sultry summer months I am always seeking ways to avoid heating up my kitchen, so I often turn to main-course salads.Sometimes all the ingredients are raw, as in salad-based dishes with marinated vegetables, tofu, or bean topping; other times, I do a minimal amount of cooking early in the day, as with this quinoa salad, and then chill the dish until dinnertime. When it is time to eat and all I need to do is remove the dish from the refrigerator, I pat myself on the back for having had the forethought to prep the dish early in the day.

As many of you know, quinoa is on the list of superfoods.  It is high in protein and iron, low in fat, and is relatively low in calories.  To enhance the flavor of this “seed” (quinoa is not a true grain), it is wise to toast it before you simmer it in water or stock. Quinoa also needs to be rinsed before cooking because it contains saponins, a slightly bitter coating that should be removed. I have found that since wet quinoa doesn’t toast very well, it is preferable to toast quinoa before you rinse it, then it will be ready to be simmered.


P1000349Serves 4 as a main course

2 cups quinoa
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous black pepper

the fixings:

1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dry roasted cashews
4 scallions, very thinly sliced
1 carrot, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint


1. Toast the quinoa in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to crackle and  become fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Toss it frequently so it toasts evenly. Pour it into a large bowl and let cool a few minutes.  Toss it into a strainer and rinse under cold water.

2. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and reduce to a simmer.  Cook about 18 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.  Spoon the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.

3.Meanwhile make the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well.  Pour onto the quinoa and mix well.

4. Add the “fixings” and mix again.  Chill until cold.  Taste for more salt and pepper.




3 thoughts on “quinoa salad with cashews, cranberries, and mint

  1. I made this and it was great, but about 3/4 of the work was rinsing the quinoa! Is there a reason for rinsing? It goes straight through the standard strainers, so I ended up using a pot under it to catch what went through and then putting it back through another strainer with a pot under that. After dirtying 5 strainers/pots, I caught most all and finished the recipe. I’d make it again, but probably not rinse, unless there is a reallly good reason, or I find a simpler method.


    • Hi Teri,
      The quinoa doesn’t go through my mesh strainer at all. If you have a fine strainer (not a colander), you shouldn’t have a problem. The reason for the rinsing is the saponin – a bitter chemical in the quinoa. Perhaps you can find quinoa already rinsed. It might say so on the package.


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