Crispy Quinoa Salad

Once in a while, a feared kitchen disaster actually turns out to be a happy accident.  This is what occurred when I decided to make a post-cinco-de-mayo-party-fridge-freezer-clean-out-meal for my dad. He’s worth it.


He arrived later in the day, garden tools in hand, as dads do, to help me do away with the “monsters”.  These are the monsters.  Turns out they’re not so easily tamed.


Scary. Word of advice: Don’t buy a house with a lot of trees on the property.  Someday, thousands of dollars will be spent maintaining them.  I wish somebody had warned me about tree upkeep.

At least there’s a bright pink one.


So back to the disaster-turned-happy-accident. I decided to make a quinoa salad out of meager leftovers and pantry staples, and, thinking it would be prudent to at least prepare the quinoa itself in advance, I did so.  Quinoa is a simple matter, really just one of boiling water, so of course it turned out perfectly.

And so of course I screwed it up.

What didn’t turn, off, that is, is the burner.  I mistakenly left the burner on low and headed out to assist.  About an hour later, I realized that disaster had ensued, the kind that would result in trashing the pot along with the burnt quinoa.

Actually, disaster had averted. It was nicely browned, crisp even.  Because I had used a non-stickish saucepan, it released and took on a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Kind of like the burnt parts of a paella, which to some is the best part.


Except this was quinoa.  I rounded out the meal with black bean quesadillas, thawed red cabbage compote and sweet potato tots (you know those, right, the Alexia brand tots? You gotta try those.)

We dined in Provence (aka outside), a term coined by mon père referring to the enjoyment of an outdoor meal, usually with wine, no matter where one resides, which is fittingly how I came about the title of this blog.


Crispy (or not if you don’t want to risk it) Quinoa Salad
Serves 4.
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (any color really)
  • chopped herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro, etc.)
  • handful chopped golden raisins
  • 3 chopped scallions
  • goat cheese crumbles (or feta)
  • lime/mustard vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • handful chopped olives
  • 2-3 chopped celery stalks
  • handful chopped almonds
  • drizzle of olive oil + dashes of salt and pepper to taste

A quinoa salad takes so well to improvisation that I’m reluctant to actually give you a method here (so I won’t).  Simply follow directions on the quinoa box (allow to cool, or at your peril, leave on low well past the recommended time for a crispier version–careful though, it could burn!).  Add handfuls of the above ingredients or whatever chopped veg, nut or cheese you may have lying around in the fridge/pantry.

Fais-moi confiance. It’ll be delish.

Lime (or lemon) Vinaigrette

Mix in a jar…

  • juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • dash white or champagne vinegar
  • tsp. (or so) honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Taste and shake.  Drizzle over salad and mix. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors come together.


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
This entry was posted in sides, vegetarian and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Crispy Quinoa Salad

  1. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, love this bright pink blossoms!
    And the salad is simple yet very interesting meal. I’m not a regular quinoa eater, but have a Peruvian colleague and she treats me with quinoa when we meet; so, I will have a great opportunity to use this recipe in our next meeting…
    Have a great week!

  2. Liza M. says:

    It seems like in the spring I really crave quinoa. It takes really well to almost any additional flavors. I’ve made a Greek style one with feta and cucumbers and one that’s kind of like tabbouli with lots of parsley, mint and tomatoes. Next I’m thinking maybe a Nicoise-style one would be in order…oh the possibilities!

  3. Michel says:

    We love quinoa, especially the red quinoa. We make salads like the one you describe plus we make quinoa patties which are great for a light lunch.

  4. Hee hee…I love your writing style…I bet it’s a bit how you naturally speak too…

    Thanks for the inspiration…I’d quite forgotten about quinoa! I’m a bad, bad west coast girl!

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