I grew up in Arizona and you would think I would have gotten used to the heat at some point…nope not true. I don’t like being hot. It makes me cranky! There is nothing worse in the summer than heating up your kitchen and then having to eat while you are sweating. unfortunately, I never grew a love for salad so that usually leaves me with a hot kitchen and slightly cranky. One of the reasons I love quinoa is that it is healthy but feels substantial like you are having a big meal. Plus, it stores for up to a week. I can make it on a Sunday then have a lovely meal throughout the week without…you guessed it…heating up the kitchen! Crankiness is subsiding already.
This particular “salad” is one of my favorites. It has a nice crunch from the almonds, a complexity in flavor from the cumin, a brightness from the cherries and it is extremely filling! You can keep the quinoa and cherry mixture cold if you would like or you can heat it up slightly. I prefer the quinoa slightly warm but try both and let me know which you prefer!
Quinoa and Cherry Salad with a Moroccan Dressing:
1 c quinoa
2 c chicken broth (you can use vegetable stock if you want to go vegetarian)
1 t cumin
1 t salt
3/4 small onion chopped
1/2 jalapeno minced
1 c cherries
1 c baby arugula
1 t chopped dill
1/4 c toasted chopped almonds (can use more if you love them as much as I do)
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T nonfat plain yogurt
1 1/2 t honey
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper
In a dry skillet, toast quinoa until starts to smell nutty and make a crackling noise (about 2-3 minutes). Take a large bowl and place a colander in it. Place the toasted quinoa in the colander and run cold water over the quinoa. Once cool enough to touch, take the quinoa in your hands and rub your palms together with the quinoa in between. You are wanting to get the sheath off. Rub the quinoa in batches for about 2-3 minutes. This is how you get fluffy quinoa. Place in a pot and add broth, 1 t cumin and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until quinoa is light and fluffy.
In a saute pan, heat a little bit of olive oil. Saute onions and jalapeno until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside. When quinoa is finished mix in the onions and jalapeno. Let cool slightly, you want it to be warm but not cold. Pit the cup of cherries and slice them. Mix them into the quinoa mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, honey, lemon juice, cumin and cinnamon. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the salad, mix the arugula and dill with a little bit of the dressing until just covered and place on the bottom of the plate. Mix about 2 T of dressing into the quinoa mixture so it is slightly moist. Place the quinoa mixture on the arugula. Top with sprinkled toasted almonds. (You can also top with chopped bacon if you want to go that route as well!)
You can refrigerate the quinoa mixture and warm it slightly before eating. It holds for about 1 week.