Friday, April 1, 2011

Quinoa, Fruit & Nut Salad

Nana and I were quite intrigued by this recipe since neither of us had cooked (or eaten....) quinoa before.  Ok, technically we weren't even sure how to pronounce it either.  Before I make us sound too "provincial", let me add that we not only scored a huge bag of this intriguing ingredient at Costco ~ but Nana also found a lovely "red" version at our local Wegman's.  Trying both was quite an adventure.  The results ?  Believe it or not, the jury is still out.  I don't think Nana will consider this a repeat but I may give it a try with pork tenderloin this summer.

Per Tricia:
The recipe is very straight forward. 
As usual, Dorie provided " play by play"
instructions which were helpful.

                    In fact the only question I had during the whole process
was how much lemon juice I should subsititute
 for the "juice of one lemon".  Thankfully we have
 the internet now to allow us to "google"
 such tidbits (as well as to teach us how to pronounce quinoa)
but I winged it and figured the salad would be forgiving. 

The curious thing about this salad was that
 when I tried Nana's version, I was really a bit
 underwhelmed (no offense Nana). 
Didn't officially dislike the dish but was not sure that
 I would select this as a side dish in lieu of couscous, rice or pasta.
I almost didn't even make my own version,
 but since I had all the ingredients ready to go I
 thought I would give it a try with the white quinoa. 
This time I definitely appreciated the flavors
and textures much more.  All I could think about
was how lovely this would be with grilled pork tenderloin. 
 Then I started wondering why I didn't have
 this reaction to  Nana's version.
I still had some in the fridge and literally took it out
 and was doing side by side nibbles.  I felt certain
 that Nana must have left out ginger or such but when I
retested was clear she did not.  They tasted pretty
much alike but the white was a bit fuller in
texture...a little bit more like a couscous size than
 the red turned out to be.  My kids had tried small spoons
of Nana's but felt they had done enough quinoa exploring
 for a while.  The hubby liked the whole salad presentation
 with yogurt and agreed that it would be a nice side
 dish for the warmer months.  Since it is currently SNOWING
here (I wish that was an April's Fool joke) we can't
wait for that warmer weather !
Per Nana:

Nana says : "if you can't say something nice,
you shouldn't say anything"...but I will anyway.

When I first read the recipe, I thought it would be very exotic.

I had never heard of quinoa before and in the Wegman's
circular for this week, there it was.  Since they were
 advertising "red" quinoa I thought this might
 add a nice color to everything else.

I used a medley of dried "craisins", raisins and apricots. 
 The nuts were a combination of walnuts,
pecans and sunflower seeds.

The cooked quinoa had a taste very similar to kasha,
but as you add the remaining ingredients, as well
as the viniagrette, it takes on a completely different flavor.

I served the salad on top of greens with a dab of Greek
yogurt, and as good as it looked...I did not care for the dish.

It was certainly worth trying, and that is what
"French Fridays with Dorie" is all about.


  1. Tricia and Nana, nice to see you both tried it and went with the greens and yogurt. I've been using quinoa for a while now and I love its flavor, texture and versatility. However, I don't think I'll be making this again. I suggest you try making tabbouleh with it, its one of my favorite ways to prepare it :)

  2. So glad you tried it - it looks so fresh and healthy. I've seen that red quinoa at Wegman's too and will try it when my bag of "regular" runs out.

  3. Tricia and Nana, I enjoyed this dish but I thought it needed a kick, so I added cinnamon to the mix. I thought it brought it up a notch! Funny I have only tried the white quinoa. The red and black look very interesting! Very nice photos! Enjoyed your post.

  4. My Costco bag of quinoa has been sitting in my pantry for almost two years now, but then again, we're a two person household! In addition to salads, I've used it as a stand in for couscous recipes and tossed a bit of it in pots of chili con carne/soup/etc. I chuckled at the part of finding the equivalent amount for '1 juice of lemon' - what would we do without search engines! Have a great weekend!

  5. Serving with pork tenderloin is a good idea! And, I sort of figured I wouldn't like the dish (because of the dried fruit) so I included Mandarin oranges instead because I hate having to eat something I'm not excited about.

  6. I found the red quinoa a bit drier, too...I think someone mentioned it might need a longer cooking time/possibly a bit more cooking water. Sorry Nana, that you weren't impressed...I really enjoyed it. Tricia, good idea for a summer side with pork :)

  7. I think this would be great with pork tenderloin, Tricia. I agree it reminds me of warmer weather, so with today's snow, it fueled the dream of those days. Nana, sorry you didn't enjoy it, but you never know, so it was worth a try. Let's hope spring arrives to the East Coast soon!

  8. The quinoa is looking so good and inviting with addition of dry fruits and fresh fruits. it adds to its color and health quotient, loved ur recipe...cheers!

  9. I like quinoa but I found this salad too chewy with the dried fruits and nuts. I like the idea of adding chopped apple or fresh mango as a substitute for some of the dried fruits and nuts.
    Sorry about your continued Winter like weather, soon Summer will be here and everybody will be warm, finally;-)

  10. I agree that the trying the recipes is what French Fridays is all about - I love trying the new things even when they're not my favorite because it seems like a little adventure in the kitchen!

  11. This wasn't really a favorite with me either, but I was glad I tried it - happy that you did too!!

  12. I really liked it but then I added salt. lol. I think there are as many variations of this as there are attempts at it. Salt helps. :)

  13. I was a bit unsure of this dish, too, as I had never had quinoa, either. But I liked it. Part of it might have been the fruit mixture I used, which had about a dozen different dried fruits in it.

  14. I'm glad you both tried it and tried two different quinoas. I added a lot of salt and pepper to my salad which gave it so much more flavor. Lots of salt. :) Both of your dishes look pretty, but we did like it better without the salad and yogurt.

  15. I'm being thoroughly educated on quinoa since like you guys have never had it before. I loved it, but kept referring to it as a grain, which it is not. At any rate, both your quinoa's look delicious-tricia and nana. Sorry you didn't like it, nana, but we can't like everything we cook, but like you said, it's what French Fridays are all about. I love the eclectic collection of recipes in the book.

  16. I love the idea of this with pork tenderloin. Interesting how the red quinoa wasn't as well received as the regular variety

  17. Tricia, trying this dish with pork tenderloin is a great idea. I may try to add grilled tofu to mine next time.

    Nana, sorry you didn't care for this dish. But I'm glad you think it was worth trying. On to next week!

  18. Oh so jealous that you all have Wegman's!! :) I wish they would come to Richmond. We keep hoping they will soon! I agree that this would be great in the summer with pork tenderloin. I always love your posts with the two perspectives! Its great!!

  19. Thanks for sharing that you found quinoa at Costco ... I'll have to keep my eyes peeled!

  20. Glad you both gave it a shot. I went sans greens and appreciated it as a side (better the second day for sure & still great the third day).
    Nana - don't give up on the quinoa yet! I am sure you have some flavor combinations up your sleeve that will covert you.
    Tricia - this would be great alongside pork, I think. Or chicken. Or fish...

  21. Quinoa is a wonderfully versatile seed and adapts easily to anything added. I have made several dishes with it, and loved all of them. One of my favorites is with sweet potatoes and bell peppers, following a Mark Bittman's recipe. But, you gave it a try, and that's all it matters:)
    It is a pretty dish, too:)

  22. I think you are spot on with the pork tenderloin! This would be a great side to serve with it... I'm keeping that in mind for next time.
    Thanks for sharing your creation... I'm so glad I joined the FFwD crew. :)

  23. My quinoa was a bit dry too. As I eat the leftovers I add a bit of liquid and it really helps. I so love your dual commentary!

  24. I love the dual commentary, too! Both of your salads are beautiful-looking. I'll be trying this in the future...didn't get to it last week!

  25. I love the back and forth funny: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. :). I could not believe the snow on april fool's insane.

  26. I hope your weather's easing up now.

    We love quinoa, and use it regularly, especially as a substitute for couscous. I hope you both experiment with it a little more and find recipes that are more to your liking, Nana.

    Tricia - this would make a great side for something like pork tenderloin - great idea.

  27. I thought quinoa only came in one color, white, before reading other FFwD posts. And Tricia, you read about how I struggled to pronouce this for years. :)

    I agree Tricia, a good summer side dish. Nana, at least it was pretty, right?

  28. Interesting post ladies. Nice that you each tried a different type of quinoa. I'm loving all the process shots! Does the red quinoa have much of a different flavor than the white?