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Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Salad with Honey Orange Dressing

May 19, 2015

I made a meal train for a friend a few weekends ago and thought about all the meals people brought to me after my surgery. My situation was a bit more limiting with a soft food diet. I remember really enjoying a vegetable quiche a friend made me. I thought maybe I liked it so much because I was so sick of soups, but I made her recipe once I was healthy again and it was still great. So I decided to make that for my friend.

I was informed that he was a chocolate fan so I made these mint Oreo truffles I’ve been wanting to try for awhile.  Yes, they were as good as they sound.  All I had left was to figure out a side dish and decided on this recipe.

Quinoa was another meal someone made me and Whole Foods commonly served this similar dish in their salad bar.  When I first made the recipe below the flavor of the dressing tasted a little off to me and I wasn’t sure if my orange wasn’t quite ripe or I added too much thyme. The second time I made it I’ve decided the thyme made it too bitter so I’ve removed the 1/2 tsp from the dressing recipe below.  I did find another recipe that called for the addition of tarragon and half as much orange juice that I might try too.

Couscous would also work really well for this salad.  You could also add scallions for some more color, and or goat cheese.  I’m on a goat cheese kick lately.


Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Chill Time: 40 min
Total Time: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 5 servings of ~1/2 cup each
Taste: Ok


1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 medium orange, juiced
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme  (made the dressing bitter)
salt and pepper, to taste


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chopped pecans on ungreased baking sheet and toast for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2) To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

3) To make dressing: Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, orange zest, honey, tumeric, thyme.

4) Pour the dressing over quinoa and add cranberries. Stir to combine.

50 Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to absorb into quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving fold in toasted pecans.

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

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