Curried Quinoa Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Toasted Almonds

Curried Quinoa Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Toasted AlmondsChisaya Mama—the Mother Grain of the Incas

For almost 6000 years, quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)—known as the sacred grain of the Incas—has been cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. And yet quinoa is not a grain but rather the seeds of the fruit of a colorful broadleaf plant related to spinach, beets and chard.

2013 the International Year of Quinoa
Moments ago while researching quinoa, I learned that in December of last year the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa as a way to “heighten public awareness of the nutritional, economic, environmental and cultural properties of quinoa.”

Quinoa has also received the United Nations classification as a “super crop” due to its quite remarkable nutrient profile:

  • Quinoa Plants in PeruA complete protein
  • Gluten-free
  • Contains all eight essential amino acids
  • Rich in vitamins E, B2 and B6, folic acid, biotin, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and chloride
  • Free of cholesterol and trans fat
  • Contains high levels of natural antioxidants, mainly vitamin E
  • Easy to digest

Satisfying and versatile
By itself, quinoa has a somewhat nutty flavor and a fluffy, creamy and slightly crunchy texture. It is satisfying and versatile and adaptable to meals throughout the day. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner in salads and soups or as a side dish. High protein quinoa flour can be used in addition to or along with wheat flour or other gluten-free flours in pasta, pancakes, cookies, muffins, etc.

What about the bitterness?
Perhaps you tasted quinoa years ago and were dismayed by its bitterness. That was certainly a problem when quinoa was first introduced into the U.S. I remember being disappointed with quinoa when I first cooked it as I only learned afterward that it needed a thorough washing. Washing it well was key to removing the bitter and soapy tasting saponins that coat and protect the seeds from hungry birds.

But that was so last century. The good news is that for quite a number of years now quinoa has come to us prewashed. It cooks up deliciously without even a hint of bitterness. Even though prewashed, I do rinse quinoa just as I do with grains.

How to Cook Quinoa

Yields about 6 cups of quinoa

Quinoa Seeds (c)jfhaugen2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
Pinch salt

Rinse and drain the quinoa and add it to a large pot along with the water and a large pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat so that the water simmers. Cook for 17 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit in the covered pan for 5 minutes.

Cooked Quinoa (c) jfhaugenEnjoy quinoa hot with butter or olive oil, with maple syrup and milk, or in any number of recipes. When you want quinoa to cool quickly, i.e. to use in this Curried Quinoa Salad, use a rubber spatula to spread the quinoa out on a cookie sheet.

This is a somewhat large recipe, but as quinoa stores well in the fridge for a number of days, it’s just as easy to prepare a large batch as a small one. Quinoa can quickly be reheated in a steamer basket over simmering water.

Curried Quinoa Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Toasted Almonds (c) jfhaugen Curried Quinoa Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Toasted Almonds

This is certainly one of my all-time favorite salads—high in both nutrition and flavor. Curried Quinoa Salad is a great dish for traveling, picnics, weekday lunch and even breakfast. If you happen to have any preserved lemons in your fridge, they’ll add an additional burst of flavor to the salad.

Makes approximately 12 cups

2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
¾ cup blanched slivered almonds
3 cup grated carrots
2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup dried cranberries (fruit sweetened)
¾ cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons rinsed and finely minced peel of a preserved lemon (optional)

Curry Dressing:
1 cup plain nonfat yoghurt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Twenty twists freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook the quinoa according to the recipe above, then spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool quickly.

Toasted Almonds (c) jfhaugenWhile the quinoa is cooking, toast the almonds in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.


Prepare the Salad Ingredients & Curry Dressing
Curried Quinoa Salad Iingredients (c) jfhaugenGrate the carrots, chop the parsley, lightly chop the cranberries and thinly slice the scallions. Place all together in a large bowl.

If you’ve used the food processor to grate the carrots and chop the parsley, then go ahead and prepare the dressing in the food processor also. Otherwise, use either a blender or a food processor.

Put all the ingredients except for the oil in the food processor or blender and process until smooth. While the machine is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the dressing comes together.

When the quinoa is cool, stir it into the bowl with the vegetables mixture. Gently stir in the dressing. Season the Curried Quinoa Salad to taste with additional salt and pepper, as needed.

Notes: for crisper almonds, add them to the salad just before serving.
The dressing will vary in color and flavor depending on the curry powder you use. I use a combination of Penzeys Sweet Curry Powder (1 tablespoon) and their Maharajah Style Curry Powder (1 teaspoon).

Click for a printer-friendly recipe without images

19 thoughts on “Curried Quinoa Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Toasted Almonds

  1. nice, Namaste!

    The recipe sounds delicious. Of course, to make it Yogic, I will alter 2 ingredients. But I will surely try it out.

    I have not still shared Yogic recipes with my community. In the eating part of Yoga, I am focusing right now on the process of Yogic eating which covers the ingredients, attitude etc.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi – I’m new to your blog but just wanted to share that this was SO incredible. I made a few changes: didn’t have scallions and don’t like parsley so left those out, used 1 cup quinoa and 1 cup couscous and added about a .5 cup raisins. I served over a bed of spinach with some grilled chicken. I’m so excited for leftovers and will definitely be making this again and again! Thank you!

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  5. Hmm…quinoa. I’ve been looking for a granola/protein bar recipe that’s higher in protein. Think I can combine this (without the veggies) with oats and other fixin’s? I like the dried cranberries. I’m going to experiment…any ideas, Janice?

  6. This is such a good recipe and really makes a bunch. It has good flavor, texture and so many good things in one serving! It will be great to have it on hand this week. Didn’t have the curry you mentioned but see that I should order a few things from that web site. Thanks so much Janice. Apple/rhubarb is on the schedule for tomorrow!!

    • You are so welcome, Kristi, so glad you enjoyed this salad. No need to purchase any other curry powder since you liked the flavor of the salad with the curry powder you already have. Enjoy the rhubarb crisp today. . . .

  7. Love, love, loved it, Janice!! Made it last night. It made a bushel, but sent some home with company. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the receipe, I will use it again.

    • Thank you, Susan, I’m so glad you love this salad. Yes, it does make a lot, which means you get to have leftovers.

  8. Definitely will make this salad. Great source of protein. Thanks for the educational segment on quinoa, and as always I love to feast my eyes on your beautiful photos.

    • Thank you, Ute, I appreciate your comments and am so glad to hear that quinoa has so many fans.

    • Thanks, Patricia, I know what you mean–there’s so much to love about quinoa.

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