Quinoa Cranberry Salad

It seems like there’s a war on gluten. There are more and more people who cannot eat gluten, or who are “intolerant”. Then there are the South Beach Diet-ers, who–at least for the first phase–are not “allowed” any gluten. Whether you like it or not, if you consider yourself a “cook” you’re going to have to acquire a gluten-free dish for your repertoire. It’s inevitable. One of your friends will not eat gluten. Promise.

Quinoa is perfect for this battle. It’s one of those currently “popular” foods like kale or broccoli rabe. It’s ridiculously healthful–packed to the gills with protein. Very filling. And like a lot of healthy foods, it has absolutely zero natural taste. Actually, I take that back. The taste of quinoa resembles Fiber One cereal–it tastes like the box it came in.

On the upside, this means you can MAKE quinoa taste like anything you want. You just have to be creative. THIS recipe is the mack-daddy of “food for picky eaters”. It is gluten free. It is vegetarian. The only dairy is optional goat-cheese, so it’s technically VEGAN. I dare you to find someone who couldn’t eat this due to dietary restrictions.

QUINOA CRANBERRY SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • Quinoa
  • Dried cranberries
  • Pecans
  • Honey-mustard dressing (I made mine, but you can always use store-bought)
  • Goat cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. This usually means rinsing it first (key step!), and cooking it just like rice.
  2. Quinoa clumps almost as quickly as orzo. To avoid lumps, once it’s fully cooked spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool.
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  3. Once everything’s cooled, toss in the dried cranberries, pecans and honey mustard.
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  4. Just before serving, garnish with goat cheese (optional).
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