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Nutty Quinoa Salad

This versatile, protein-packed salad with tangy lemon dressing is the perfect addition to a summer potluck.

June 5, 2017

I recently attended a luncheon where the sandwiches were dried out by the time people sat down to eat. Salads that can be made ahead are so much better, and this one is a versatile base for making it your own with the addition of your favorite meats and cheeses.

Serves four to six people. 



  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red quinoa or mixed quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly broken up
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (such as, golden raisins and cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lemon-Pomegranate Dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Bring water to a boil in a three-quart saucepan, then add quinoa. Return to boil, then reduce heat slightly. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the quinoa opens and the seeds spiral out. For extra fluffy quinoa, remove pot from heat, cover pot with a clean dish cloth, top with the pan lid and let sit for 15 minutes to finish. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

While the quinoa cooks, toast the nuts on a sheet pan at 350 degrees F for five minutes. Prepare the dressing while the nuts toast. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, whisk together dressing ingredients until emulsified.

Add dressing to quinoa, toss, add remaining ingredients and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in the bowl or on individual plates. Even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to develop.

This salad is wonderful served over a bed of arugula, with cubed chicken breast, leftover salmon, crumbled feta or cotija cheese.

Cook’s note: If you don’t have pomegranate molasses, omit, though that small amount adds a wonderful note of flavor. If you’re a cilantro-hater, substitute more mint and parsley. Mix and match nuts and dried fruit to your liking.