Fluffy, nutty quinoa is tossed with a fresh mix of arugula, basil, dried cranberries, creamy goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle on your favorite vinaigrette for the perfect lunch or side to dinner!
Whenever I need a make-ahead lunch option I always look to quinoa. It’s quick cooking, very versatile, and lasts all week in the fridge. You can toss in any of your favorite salad toppings and your favorite dressing and have a different lunch option each week!
I make these kinds of salads a lot and I felt this one was extra-special so I had to share it with you! I think this one would be a perfect side dish for holidays – it would go great alongside that Turkey. Yes, it is November and yes, Thanksgiving is right around the corner!
Speaking of Thanksgiving, this week I’ll be testing/shooting my menu for you. I’m going a little non-traditional this year – there will still be all of the elements of the big meal, but with a twist! Stay tuned for those recipes next week!
Ok, back to this amazing quinoa salad. The only cooking involved is the quinoa, which is really easy. If you have struggled with making perfect quinoa before, then my method is going to change that!
The first step to making perfect, fluffy quinoa is to rinse it. It’s a simple step that I think is necessary – it gets rid of that bitterness that un-rinsed quinoa can have. Once you rinse it, you’ll want to toast it in a small amount of oil. By doing this you evaporate the excess liquid and enhance the nutty flavor.
After the quinoa is all nice and toasty, add your water and bring to a boil. Cover and let it go for 15 minutes at a very low simmer. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and you’re ready to enjoy or use it soups and salads.
I transfer mine to a big bowl to let it cool completely. Once it’s cool, I toss in my salad mix-ins. For this one I went with arugula, dried cranberries, basil, goat cheese, and pine nuts. I love this mixture because it’s a great mix of flavors and textures.
You can use whatever your favorite dressing is, but I would highly recommend my lemon-pepper vinaigrette. However, a balsamic vinaigrette or anything citrus-y would be fantastic.
I had this salad all week long for lunch and even as a side to dinner. If you’re eating it as a meal this will provide 4 generous servings. As a side dish you’ll get 6 servings. To add some more protein you can top it with grilled chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken, which I always have in my fridge!
No matter how you choose to enjoy this vibrant salad it’s sure to be a hit!
- 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 Cups Water
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Baby Arugula
- ½ Cup Dried Cranberries
- ½ Cup Goat Cheese
- ¼ Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
- ¼ Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
- ¼ Cup Vinaigrette, such as Balsamic, Citrus, or Lemon-Pepper
- In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the quinoa and allow it to toast for a few minutes or until the excess liquid evaporates. Add the water, a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, and cover to bring the water to a boil. Once at a boil, lower the heat to simmer and allow the quinoa to cook for 15 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
- In a large bowl toss the cooled quinoa with the arugula, cranberries, cheese, basil, nuts, and dressing. Serve at room temperature or chilled.