After a long and rainy April, it seems like summer is finally here in Minnesota! The forecast predicts today will be 86 degrees and gloriously sunny, and I am enjoying every minute of the sunshine, blue skies, and bright May flowers. This weekend I’m boxing up the last of my sweaters to make room in my closet for sundresses and shorts, and exchanging my boots for sandals. My wardrobe isn’t the only thing that needed a change for spring- so did my menu. Winters in Minnesota call for soups and casseroles- something warm and hearty to fill you up and keep cozy on a chilly night. Spring calls for something bright and refreshing, like fruit or a colorful salad. I found both in this quinoa salad.
Have you ever been served something delicious and felt the need to rush home and recreate it? A few weeks ago, I attended a work event and was served the most delicious quinoa salad. It was colorful and packed with flavor, and much better than any quinoa salad I’d had before. I swung by the grocery store on my way home, determined to have the same amazing salad the next day. After several attempts (and many tasty, but not quite perfect, misses), I’m proud to share my version. This quinoa salad has only a handful of ingredients- most of them might already be in your pantry!
I used red quinoa for my salad, which gives the salad a beautiful color and a subtle nutty taste. I found my quinoa at Aldi, and I had to dig to find the red quinoa, but it was worth it. White quinoa will work just as well, even if the color is less exciting. Diced apples and cucumber add a refreshing bite and lots of color with their bright peels. But my favorite part is the orange vinaigrette! It has a subtle sweetness while adding acidity and tang to the salad. Quinoa might be a nutritional power house, but plain quinoa is incredibly bland, and this dressing is the extra kick it needs. An added bonus? The orange juice keeps the apples from browning, so you can save some salad for later and it will still look delicious and fresh.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (red or white)
- 2 cups diced cucumber (about one medium cucumber)
- 2 cups diced apples (about two medium apples)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions, and let cool.
- Dice cucumber and apples into small pieces.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk until well combined.
- Toss all ingredients with dressing.
Adjust amount of salad dressing to taste. I don't like a lot of dressing, so I used about 3/4 of the dressing in my quinoa salad, and used the rest to top another salad. Be sure dressing is well mixed before adding to salad (orange juice and oil will separate as the dressing sits).
This salad is my new lunch favorite, and I love making a large batch early in the week and packing it for lunches later. I found that my mason jars are the perfect size for a lunch-time serving of salad, and the airtight seal keeps everything fresh in the fridge. If preparing this salad in advance, I would suggest leaving out the walnuts and adding them when you are ready to enjoy your salad. No one likes soggy walnuts. However, you can add the vinaigrette ahead of time. The quinoa will help soak up the dressing, preventing a puddle of dressing at the bottom of your salad come lunch time.
21 Day Fix
One serving is approximately 1/2 cup quinoa, half an apple, half a serving of cucumber and 2 tbsp walnuts. This translates to 1 yellow container, 1/2 purple, 1/2 green and about 1/2 blue, plus 1 orange for the dressing. This quinoa salad is great for 21 Day Fix because it very filling and covers multiple food groups/containers.
Note: I am not affiliated with 21 Day Fix or Beachbody, and I am not receiving compensation for this post or recipe. I follow the meal plan myself and hope others following the same meal plan find this information helpful.