Quinoa Salad w/ Honey Mustard Dressing

A tasty quinoa salad is always a good thing to be able to whip up for any occasion – picnic, BBQ, potluck or simply dinner at home. I made this salad to take to a birthday party recently, and much to my relief everyone really enjoyed it 🙂

The sweet cranberries, tangy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and red bell pepper, and the bite from the scallions made for a great combo in this salad!

Quinoa is a tasty, gluten-free grain with many health benefits. In particular, it is known to be a complete source of protein, supplying all nine essential amino acids (ref: WHFoods).

As with any salad, feel free to tailor the vegetables and their quantities to you what you like and what you have on hand, but be sure to include the cranberries, because they are so tasty! This is a great salad to make the day ahead.

Quinoa Salad w/ Honey Mustard Dressing

1 cup quinoa (soak overnight in warm water, then drain and rinse thoroughly)
1/2 medium cucumber (semi-peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced)
1/2 cup cranberries
3/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 red pepper, seeds removed and diced
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Honey Mustard Dressing*:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)
3-4 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons prepared mustard (I used plain, but Dijon should also work)
4 teaspoons liquid honey

To cook the quinoa:
1. Add rinsed quinoa and 1 1/4 cups** filtered water into a pot.
2. Heat on high until it just starts to simmer.
3. Cover and turn down to lowest setting.
4. Cook for 20 minutes (do not lift lid while cooking).

To make the salad:
1. Allow the quinoa to cool completely.
2. Mix cooked quinoa and salad vegetables together in a bowl.
3. To make the dressing, add all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together.
4. Add the dressing to the salad bit by bit (you may not need all of it) and mix well.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Place in the fridge to chill for an hour or so before serving. This salad can also be made a day ahead.

*The dressing will taste very strong on its own, but the blandness of the grains will absorb much of the intensity so don’t worry!
**The soaking process means the quinoa grains have already absorbed a lot of water, so only 1 1/4 cups are needed to cook the quinoa. If you choose not to soak the quinoa first, then you may need more water.

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