Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries

Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries is a beautiful salad that is both healthy and delicious. Perfect for a vegetarian option or a holiday side dish!

We simply loved this Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries and I’m happy to add it to my quinoa repertoire; that list might be small but with two salads I really love it’s mighty!

Is the quinoa fad over yet? I have a tendency to try something once it’s lost it’s place as the foodie ‘darling.’ I can never quite get on-board with some of the over the top LOVE I see for some newly discovered foods so I watch and wait and I dig in when the mood strikes me, not when the masses say I have to.

Kale chips also come to mind but I’ve yet to go that route; I just prefer Lay’s and I know you get that, right? I did try some Kale Pesto I sampled at a food event and yes, it was good enough to include on this blog…but then come on; olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts are good with almost anything!

My first foray into quinoa territory was a couple of years ago with this Tandoori chicken dish, before quinoa had become heralded as the grain of all grains. While I enjoyed that dish it wasn’t until I made this Red Quinoa Chipotle Lime Salad with Corn and Avocado (next on ‘photos need to be redone’ list!) a couple of years ago that I first felt true quinoa love.

I much preferred the flavor combination of the nutty quinoa better when mixed with a flavorful dressing and am surprised it’s taken me this long to delve in again but delve I have.

I was first inspired to make this dish when I heard it mentioned on a telecast of Ina Garten’s show on the Food Network. I don’t even get that channel anymore; when I decided to cut back on cable it was easy to lose because there were too many contests and not enough chefs that inspired me so I said goodbye…and son of a gun I have survived!

Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries Served in a White Bowl on a Red and White Tablecloth

Even though that was several years ago, I remember it well. Her recipe was for a wild rice salad but my pantry only offered up quinoa and I loved the end result.

I did make a few other changes too. Don’t hate me but the Barefoot Contessa could have used a bit more of everything; 2 cups of wild rice or quinoa is a lot when finished and I thought her quantities of the other ingredients simply not satisfying enough.

I don’t want to search for a grape or a berry or a nut, I want some of them in every bite…are you with me? The dressing also benefited substantially with the addition of some honey; the tartness of vinegar and citrus was almost crying for it. I was delighted that this salad measured up to that salad last year; so much so that it wasn’t what I had on the side for dinner, it was dinner!

When I made this again for company a couple of weeks ago, I realized as I do often; the photos were just not representative of how beautiful this salad is. It’s earthy and warm but still with some vibrant colors. I’ve fixed that with new photos and even better, I’ve enjoyed it again and thought many of my readers would too.

I’ve found myself navigating more and more to enjoying fruits and nuts in my salads; maybe it’s because I only enjoy homegrown tomatoes in salads in the summer, the rest of the year I can find a variety of fruits for almost any season.

While I think this salad is great all season long, I can envision serving it for a holiday meal too; the orange, cranberry and pecan components would fit right in.

Sometimes rice and grains and other brown foods can create a challenge to photograph well, but with the pretty colors in this salad it made all the difference and the colors pop on the plate. It doesn’t hurt that it is so good. I mean really, REALLY good!

PIN IT! ‘Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries’

  Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries Served on a White Plate with Biscuits and Jam

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Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pecans and Cranberries

A healthy and delicious salad featuring quinoia, fruit and nuts.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salads, Dressings, Marinades and Sauces
Servings: 6 -8 Servings
Calories:
Author: Creative Culinary

Ingredients

  • 10 oz quinoa I used a variegated variety
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup pomegranate juice a juice blend is fine
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 navel oranges peeled and sliced between membranes
  • 1 cup seedless red or green grapes cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp scallions white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pecans toasted

For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup raspberry or balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp Orange Liqueur optional - use orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  • Place the quinoa in a medium pot with the 2 cups of stock and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, until it blooms. Drain well and put back into the pot and cover for 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork and let cool.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, soak the dried cranberries in the pomegranate juice to plump.
  • Once the quinoa has cooled, drain the cranberries and add them to the bowl with the orange sections, grapes, scallions and pecans and mix gently.

For the Dressing:

  • Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, orange liqueur and salt and pepper and whisk to combine; drizzle over the salad and stir in gently.
  • Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Check seasonings and serve at room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 1grams

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24 Comments

  1. I had some last night…about the same recipe except mine had some cored cucumber pieces with the skin on. very tasty!!!

  2. My curried quinoa salad is full of dried fruit and I love it. I know this will be a fast favorite of mine too. I didn’t get on the quinoa wagon until late in the game either. It’s a staple but it’s no more important than any other staple in my pantry. 🙂

  3. I totally hear you on this quinoa thing. I’ve felt like I’ve been whacked over the head with it over the past year or two. But, there is a time and a place for it, and this salad looks great! Would be an awesome addition to the thanksgiving table, as a little bit of fiber wouldn’t be a bad thing. That is, of course, only if you have room left after everything else.

    1. I thought the same thing Coley; this would be perfect for Thanksgiving. We tone ours down more each year; Mom is tired of working all day long cooking and I look for some simple yet super flavorful sides. This one? Even better the next day I think!

  4. Although a fad might help me discover a new food, I never cook with it, eat it or post about it because it is a fad. I adore quinoa, love the flavor and the texture… reminds me of my mom’s kasha and gravy. This salad is stupendous! It might be only a salad but I love the flavors, the oranges, pecans and cranberries you have mixed with my favorite grain. Perfect!

    1. That would be me too. I loved this a lot; now wish I still had some. The crunch factor makes it so interesting and a great contrast to the fruits.

  5. You’re reminding me that I don’t cook with quinoa nearly often enough. I took a snapshot of a deli-style quinoa salad that I was obsessed with a few months ago to remember to make it and your version comes PRETTY darn close to that version with the oranges, cranberries, and nuts. I’ve been dreaming about this salad every since.

  6. Last fall a restaurant had a quinoa dish on their menu as a special. It was advertised as full of brussels sprouts, squash, and lots of other thing I liked. I ordered it, and it came with like 1 whole brussels sprout in the entire dish. I completely agree with your upping all the other ingredients! This salad sounds wonderful, love the oranges and pecans!

    1. Thanks Erin…I mean if not then just make a batch of plain quinoa and play ‘hide the berries’ or something but I want them all and lots of them!

  7. I typically make quinoa 1-2 times a week. I’ve never made this recipe before but love the sound of it. Not only is it perfect for fall but the dressing sounds fantastic. I look forward to trying this.

  8. I’m often late to the party with fashionable foods, too. Not sure if that’s down to contrariness or laziness though.
    The weather is heating up here so this will be a nice one for the summer repertoire. And well done on finding a way to add booze to a salad!

    1. I wanted to include some orange juice but I didn’t have any more oranges. What was a girl to do but reach for the next best thing! 🙂

  9. I agree with you– I am now making quinoa dishes at home but it took me a while to settle into it. I had a very similar combinations of flavors today for lunch– dried cranberries, pecans, a touch of brown sugar and some feta cheese topped my sweet potato. Quinoa would have been a good choice too, I’ll try it later this week.

    1. Ooh…that sounds good too! I have heard that our consumption has moved it out of a price range that the Indians in South America can afford and it’s a staple there so as much as I like it; I don’t eat it that often. I know my small effort matters little but I do it anyhow.

  10. I have a bit bag of red quinoa in my pantry that I need to use! It’s one of those ingredients that I’ll use in several dishes in a row, then forget all about it. But it’s a nice grain substitute, and it looks terrific in this salad. I like fruit in this sort of salad, a lot, and this looks terrific. Nothing more seasonal than oranges, pecans, and cranberries!

  11. I with you in not having to search for fruit, berries or nuts (which I particularly love in salads) so I’m glad you went all in with them in this salad. Love the look of your salad, especially lovely for this time of year.

    P.S. Lays chips all the way 🙂

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