Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Cranberries, Apples, and Walnuts

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Quinoa is an ancient grain which has become one of the most popular health foods today. Quinoa is  high in protein, vegetarian friendly, and unlike many plant proteins contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. We can only get essential amino acids through the foods we eat.  Quinoa is gluten-free,  high in fiber, and a good source of B-vitamins, iron, potassium,  magnesium, phosphorus, and heart healthy fats. Quinoa is not only nutritious but is easy and quick to prepare.  It can be incorporated in to many dishes including salads, stir fries, soups, casseroles, side dishes, and even baked goods.

I really enjoy this quinoa salad as it is easy to make, can be a everyday healthy salad, and also served as a beautiful salad for the holidays.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Cranberries, Apples and Walnuts

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Ingredients

  • one cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • one can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • two medium honey crisp or Granny Smith apples chopped into small pieces
  • one cup crumbled goat cheese
  • one cup candied walnuts (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette or Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing (see recipes below)

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Directions

  1. First prepare the quinoa. Rinse one cup quinoa in a fine mesh colander under cold running water for 30 seconds. Rinsing quinoa removes the saponins which can cause bitterness. In a medium saucepan bring quinoa and 2 cups  vegetable broth to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and cover. Lightly simmer for 15 to 20minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat,  stir in dried cranberries re-cover  and set aside  for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Allow to cool before adding to salad.
  2. Make candied walnuts. On a stove top on medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Add one cup chopped walnuts, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and one tablespoon maple syrup. Sauté for 5-6  minutes and pour over parchment paper. Gently separate nuts.
  3. In a large salad bowl or platter combine the cooled quinoa, chickpeas, chopped apples, and baby spinach.
  4. Top with candied walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
  5. Drizzle with Balsamic Vinaigrette or with Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing (Recipes below)

img_1010Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing :

  • Ingredients : 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Directions: place all ingredients in a container with a tight feeding lid such as a mason jar. shake vigorously for 30 seconds until well blended and emulsified.Store in the refrigerator.

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • Ingredients: 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Directions: In a small sauce pan over low heat cook cranberries, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup for 10 minutes until soft. Remove from heat and cool. In a blender or food processor blend cranberry mixture. Add orange juice, Dijon mustard, and salt. Blend well. Slowly add olive oil while blender or food processor is running. Store in the refrigerator.

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