Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 5, 2007: Dried cherry quinoa salad

A few months ago I became infatuated with dried cherries after discovering them at the Queen Vic markets. Then a number of weeks later they popped up on the shelf at Safeway for the first time. Unsurprisingly, the supermarket-sourced cherries weren't quite as tasty and they've languished in the pantry for the intervening month or so. While I didn't want to waste dark chocolate on them, my inferior fruits were worthy of this quinoa salad from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit. I proved less well suited to the task, completely overestimating our quinoa reserves and having to substitute most of it with couscous.

While I'd prefer to rely solely on the super-nutritious quinoa, our salad didn't suffer at all from pasta problems - there are just too many other great ingredients going on here. Chickpeas and spinach are staples in this home, and add welcome bulk and texture; the lemon-yoghurt dressing is my ideal partner for quinoa. However the star couple at this party are the dried cherries and roasted almonds: even the briefest sit in this moist mixture has the cherries softening from their leathery state, while the creamy almonds maintained their crunch even after floating in this dressed salad for a day.

Be warned that the crushed raw garlic thoroughly infuses this dish, making it a risky take-to-work lunch. It's a bit of extra effort but using roasted garlic might create a milder, sweeter and more sociable salad.

Dried cherry quinoa salad

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed (use cous cous if you're desperate)
2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cucumber; peeled, deseeded and diced finely
1 x 400g can chickpeas, rinsed

1/4 cup natural yoghurt (soy or dairy)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

Prepare the quinoa and/or couscous (separately!) using the directions on the packet and allow it to cool.

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and toss the other salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss further to combine.

Let the salad sit for half an hour to let the flavours develop.


  1. I'm glad you posted this recipe, Michael. I recently made a very simple quinoa and millet pilaf and I was on the look-out for another quinoa recipe. With its chickpeas and fresh garlic, plus an 'interesting twist' ingredient (dried cherry), I think I just might have to make this salad for when I go to visit my sister on Saturday. Cheers!

  2. Oops. Let me redirect that last comment to you, Cindy.

  3. Hi Daniel! :-) I hope you and your sister enjoy it. Could you tell me where you buy millet from? I went on a bit of a search earlier in the year and failed to find it. Also, how do you like to prepare it? Pilaf sounds like a good start...

  4. Hey Cindy. I'm certain my sister will enjoy the recipe...if she lets me make it. As it happens, she has a chickpea salad of her own in mind for the lunch. We're still in negotiations. Surely any rational person would concede that your salad recipe - with quinoa and dried cherries - trumps a run-of-the-mill salad recipe!

    Anyhoo, regarding your millet query, just head to a whole foods store. Being a north-side girl, I recommend you go to Friends of the Earth on Smith St. I know that the big Asian grocer opposite the Queen Vic market also sells millet but it is imported and comes in a plastic pack so it's not as good environmentally.

    BTW, the quinoa and millet pilaf recipe - which is as simple to make as rice - came from a cookbook called The Voluptuous Vegan, which I thoroughly recommend.

  5. Fantastic - thanks for all that info! My curiosity for unusual grains is reviving...

    Good luck in the salad battle. :-D

  6. Hey Cindy! Yum, I really need a quinoa recipe and this one looks delectable...also have you ever seen "razzocherries"? They are a dried fruit, cross between raspberry and cherry and have the most amazing taste. You can get them from Oasis Bakery in Murrumbeena (a food haven in itself). Your post reminded me of them :)

  7. Buttons, I have never heard of razzocherries! They sound like a must-taste experience. I'll make a note to visit the Oasis Bakery sometime...

  8. That sounds amazing Cindy! I must say I'm a bit of a quinoa virgin, this is the recipe that has broken the drought. I was wondering if you'd heard of Goji berries? Also wondered if i might pick your brain for potential ideas of what to do for the packet i bought on a whim :)

  9. Mel., this is only the second time we've tried quinoa at home so it's pretty new to us too! I definitely recommend trying it - it's as easy to cook as rice.

    I have never bought goji berries before but have noticed them at my local fruit shop. It seems that, like my Safeway cherries, they would really benefit from a moist recipe to soften them and plump them up a little. (I assume yours are dried...?) That would surely make baking (muffins!) a winner. I also read that they're good in rice congee, which sounds really interesting, and I'm sure they'd work in oat porridge too.

    I almost always prefer my dried fruits to be paired with a nut, so I'd probably taste a couple and imagine what nut I could also add to any of those recipes. Have fun experimenting - I hope you'll blog your results for us to see. :-)

  10. I just tried this recipe today. This is my first time tasting and cooking quinoa. What a fantastic recipe! I added roasted walnuts in place of the almonds and added red chilli flakes as we like a little our food on the spicier side. Thanks so much for making my friday night stay-in dinner a grand success!

  11. Awesome, I'm so glad you liked it ragamuffin! I will have to make it again myself, if only I can get my hands on more dried cherries - Safeway's no longer stocking them.