Saturday, May 4, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper, Pine Nuts and Cherries

To download a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper, Pine Nuts and Cherries, click HERE.

A warm welcome to new subscriber Ruby. Great to see you here!

Culinary inspiration, of course, can come from many places. The world is ready to tell us about many wonderful foods and ingredients; our job is to listen for them.

Recently, at my cousin’s wedding reception, I got my first taste of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). In use for literally thousands of years – it was an important part of the diets of the Incas of ancient Peru – quinoa is a delicious, easy-to-prepare superfood that is finding new popularity due to its high protein, iron, and fiber contents.

If you’re not familiar with quinoa, at first look you might confuse it with couscous. But the taste and mouthfeel of this nutritional powerhouse are totally different.

Quinoa can be used in many ways. This recipe features it as a warm side dish, and has the added benefit of including cherries, the anti-oxidant and melatonin rich superfruit.

A couple of Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • It is important to rinse the quinoa thoroughly as described above before cooking. Quinoa has a naturally occurring coating called saponins. If not rinsed off, saponins can cause the quinoa to taste bitter.

  • Although this recipe uses chicken broth to cook the quinoa, to make this a vegetarian dish just use vegetable broth instead.

This recipe makes about 1 quart of quinoa salad.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup grape tomatoes; olive oil; 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar; 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano;1 red bell pepper; 1 cup uncooked quinoa; ½ cup dried cherries; 2 Tbsp fine-diced onion; 4 garlic cloves, minced; 2 cups fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth; ½ tsp kosher salt; ¼ cup pine nuts; 2 Tbsp dried parsley; pinch fresh ground black pepper; and 2 Tbsp grated parmesan.

To prepare the tomatoes:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Quarter the grape tomatoes lengthwise.

Toss the tomatoes with a small amount of olive oil, about ½ tsp. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes.


Combine the vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and the oregano in a bowl.

Add the roasted tomato quarters and let marinate while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

To prepare the roasted red pepper:

Roast the red pepper on the stove top until the skin is blackened.

Wrap the blackened pepper in foil and set aside to cool. The pepper will continue to steam in the foil for a while.

Continue with the rest of the recipe. When the pepper has cooled, scrape off and discard the blackened skin, and dice the pepper flesh.

To prepare the quinoa for cooking:

Place the quinoa in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Let the quinoa soak for five minutes, then rinse well under the faucet. Drain well.

To rehydrate the cherries:

Combine the cherries and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan over medium heat.

When the liquid has just begun to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer the cherries and liquid to a bowl and set aside for now till needed. (We'll drain the cherries later on before adding them to the quinoa.)

To cook the quinoa:

Warm ½ Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. (If you like, you can rinse and dry the saucepan you just used to rehydrate the cherries.) Add the diced onion and sautĂ© just until tender, about 1 minute. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add the quinoa and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the chicken stock and salt.

Heat to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, then cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. (This should take about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it.)

While quinoa is cooking, toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven, or in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

When the quinoa has finished cooking, stir in the tomatoes (including marinating liquid), red pepper, cherries (drained), pine nuts, parsley, and black pepper.

To serve:

Sprinkle with parmesan, and drizzle with a little olive oil to serve. Serve warm or hot.

To download a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper, Pine Nuts and Cherries, click HERE.

Never let it be said the ancient Incas didn’t know how to eat great tasting, healthy food!

Please visit again next week for another home-cook friendly recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Sounds delish! Do you sprinkle the pine nuts on it before serving?

  2. Thanks, Sandy. And you have a good eye...looks like I forgot to mention what to do with the pine nuts once they're toasted! (They get added at the same time as the tomatoes, cherries, red pepper, etc.) I'll make that correction.