Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

French Fridays with Dorie

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

You don’t have to twist my arm to fool around in the kitchen with quinoa. Quinoa and I have been flirting around with each other for over a year now even though so far its nothing too serious. We were first introduced by a mutual friend and while it wasn’t all electricity and sparks it was the beginning of a good Friendship with Benefits. This weeks French Fridays with Dorie experience has me thinking that perhaps I should seek more of a commitment. Quinoa is a keeper.

Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wa”) and I first met a year or so ago when my friend Leslie , the chef presiding at Barrister Bites, introduced us via her frequent blog posts covering its delights sometime last year. Ms. Barrister taught me that the popular quinoa is actually not a grain or cereal at all but rather a seed from plants that resemble beets and spinach (the Amarathaceae family) as opposed grasses that produce more carb heavy grains. Quinoa as a food staple originated in South America and was domesticated nearly 4000 years ago back when the Incas loved it so much they considered it a sacred crop. Its association with non-Christian ceremonies eventually provoked the conquistadors to prohibit its cultivation in favor of western wheat crops. Religious zealots can be such kill-joys.

(Ms. Barrister didn’t actually teach me all of that. I looked it all up just now on Wikipedia. Bloggers do that a lot by the way.)

Her Barristership did enlighten me to the fact that quinoa, with up to 14 grams per serving, is a more complete protein than any grain or rice. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium, amino acids, and fiber. All Friends With Benefits should have such benefits! Certainly the conquistadors would have changed their mind had they only known how South Beach Diet friendly this food can be.

Quinoa is as simple to cook as rice. Like rice it takes well to any flavor you want to throw at it. These are all great qualities to have in a friend I should think. Ms. Barrister being a fan of ethic foods shared her choices for using it with savory flavors such as Summer Veggies with Cajun Shrimp and my personal favorite, Quinoa with Chicken and Pesto.

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

Dorie’s non-recipe version gives a nod to quinoa’s inherent flexibility and Zelig-like character by suggesting we mix it with any combination of dried fruit, nuts, and herbs of our choice. Somehow this makes it “French”? (And by the way, is there nothing that Dorie won’t stuff with dried fruits and nuts?)

I took inspiration from Ms. Barrister’s Quinoa Tex Mex Tacos and served Dorie’s salad as an appetizer wrapped in Butter Lettuce leaves reveaing even more versatility. I had pistachios left over from my last Dorie variation on a theme. Chopped parsley and mint worked perfectly with the ginger dressing and yogurt with mint seemed a natural mix.  I did add a little salt and pepper to the dressing as salting the boiling water wasn’t enough to get the flavors to do their thing.   The final palette ended up being  quite Persian-esque for a supposedly Parisian dish but then again some of my favorite Persians really do live in Paris with French tables of their own.

This Friend With Benefits is a keeper, destined to show up as my date this summer served with grilled meats or as my contribution to a summer picnic potluck.

Be sure to check out the other Dorista’s experiences with this dish. Its been dating around while it still can.

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

Quinoa Fruit and Nut Salad

This is what you will need:

    For the quinoa:
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup dried zante currants
  • 1/3 cup dried golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachio meats
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons walnut oil

This is how you make it:

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and with some salt and add rinsed quinoa.
  2. Lower heat and cook quinoa for 12-15 minutes until grains expand revealing a light, thin ring around each ‘grain’.
  3. Off the heat and cover pan to let moisture absorb.
  4. Let quinoa come down to room temperature and then stir in fruits, nuts and herbs.
  5. Combine dressing ingredient in a small jar and shake well.
  6. Add to quinoa and mix well.
  7. Cover salad and let sit to blend flavors.
  8. Serve over salad greens or in lettuce cups with a dollop of plain yogurt or a drizzle of extra dressing and lemon zest.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Hmmmm. I wonder if we will ever have to make a beef dish stuffed with fruit and nuts? I had better go check and prepare myself for that event…
    Very lovely take on this.

  2. I love this served in lettuce as wraps! I enjoyed this all week for various meals. LOVE quinoa.

  3. Hmm…friends with benefits. =D As this was my first encounter with quinoa, I’m still at the flirting stage. But,that was only because I just had to nix the dried fruit. I’m glad to see you followed the rules! Your dish looks great!

  4. Beautiful photos of your friend-with-benefits. Thanks for all the wiki info too!

  5. Lovely! What a great idea to make this as lettuce wraps…such a cute presentation! Sounds delicious – love the flavors you used!

  6. I can’t believe that I have never eaten or cooked quinoa before, but that is why I really enjoy FFwD. Your salad looks beautiful and I also can’t believe that I forgot to add the parsley and mint that I bought!! I am so adding them to it for lunch. 🙂

  7. What a great post! I must say that after making this dish I will be eating much more quinoa. I see it as almost cous-cous like.

  8. Crashing over from Cher’s prom… I can’t believe I never noticed the ‘Beware of Doristas’ badge in the right sidebar until now. You got me at my best angle! Your lettuce wraps look beautifully Pearisian. Love the bit of zest on top of the yogurt!

  9. Excellent post! You’ll never tie down quinoa. We’ve been deeply involved in cookies, granola & my lazy suppers like this salad. I’ll never let her go. 🙂

  10. What an elegant presentation! I loved the history lesson, because I had no idea about the origins of Quinoa – just that it’s been popping up a lot lately. And, I had to laugh at your comment about Dorie & dried fruits & nuts – it’s SO true! I still have some Quinoa left, so I may try this recipe yet! Have a fun weekend!

  11. Putting the salad in a lettuce cup is a great idea! This was my first quinoa experience and I can’t wait to cook with it again.

  12. Lovely presentation!

  13. I love the idea of quinoa in a lettuce wrap – I’m adding this to my “to do” list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Oooh, lettuce wraps – awesome idea! 🙂

  15. My first encounter with quinoa was for breakfast. It was cooked with milk and blueberries were added at the end. Sprinkled with a little sugar, it was heavenly! I love the way you served this, so artistic! And your photos are wonderful! Thanks for all the info on the quinoa…I never knew it was not a grain!

  16. Hilarious (as usual) and informative post. Very enjoyable to us Quinoa virgins 🙂 I really need to revisit the Dr. after all these French Fridays. That would be Dr. Atkins. So nice to know that I actually have something that can be added to the low carb (or at least high protein) repertoire. Right after we make the eclairs…..

  17. Fabulous serving idea, Sis. Boom! As always, I love laughing through your post. And I really appreciate a couple other options for the rest of my quinoa…the pesto/chicken sounds marvelous 🙂

  18. I love the idea of the lettuce wraps, too. Great photos!

  19. If quinoa is your friend with benefit, then it is my secret part-time lover and bff combined. Great post. You made me laugh at the end of a loooong day.

  20. I love the quinoa history and your pictures are amazing, as usual!

  21. Great post, and wonderful idea of how to serve this! Lovely as usual. I’m afraid my efforts were not quite as successful, nor as beautiful. Oh well!!

  22. Your butter lettuce makes a beautiful vessel for the salad. It all looks quite appetizing.

  23. I had to come over and check out your quinoa salad. The delicate butter lettuce makes such an appealing edible dish holding just a perfect bite of quinoa salad. Oh and yes to the zest, just adds a certain something against that creamy topping;-)

  24. Your presentation is gorgeous! I will have to try some of the other quinoa recipes you linked to. Thanks for the informative post.

  25. I love that you created hand held salads with the butter lettuce – so pretty! I’m off to check out the quinoa with chicken and pesto recipe…

  26. Great idea serving these in lettuce wraps! I hadn’t thought of that. I never think to buy quinoa, but I’m going to use it more often after trying this recipe.

  27. GREAT photos & post!! Thanks for the pronounciation, too. I was pronouncing it correcting, but my hubby has tried telling me it’s “keen-O-a”.

  28. oops…meant correctly

  29. I’m shocked that you even made this. You’re definitely not a man of your word. Even so – I’m more shocked that you’ve used this before. I thought I was the only one. Me and “Q”. We’re a weekly event in my crockpot with leftover vegetables. Not quite like Tex Mex Tacos – or even close. But these wraps look “sue-pah!” Quite stunning for a tiny, transparent grain, don’t you think?

  30. I love the lettuce wraps. I still have some leftover, so maybe I’ll try that for lunch tomorrow. I look forward to your posts. You are always so creative and entertaining!

  31. I felt like a fly on the wall as you spoke of your love affair with quinoa! The passion in your writing is so authentic! I love reading your posts and sneaking a peek into your kitchen. Sis-Boom Score!!!

  32. I just LOVE your use of the lettuce wraps. And your photos … GORGEOUS. I love the close-ups and depth of field. So fun!

  33. Quinoa is great- so versatile. It looks really good in those lettuce wraps, especially with the way you’ve accessorized it. 🙂 Definitely a keeper!

  34. Your friend with benefits is extremely photogenic! I love the presentation with bibb lettuce (my favorite:)
    Yes, this was simple, easy, open to interpretation and versatile, which is the right definition of quinoa. I have been making similar dishes for about a year, and quinoa is here to stay:)

  35. Your salad cups look so pretty…what a great presentation!
    Beautiful photos!

  36. Hella awesome lettuce cups! These rock it. – mary

  37. Love all the background info and I completely love the scoops of quinoa in the lettuce cups…great presentation!!

  38. Anonymous says:

    I’m not surprised that you too are a fan of quinoa as its protein content is like unwrapping an unexpected present.

    And who doesn’t love a FWB that packs a surprise?


  39. Beautiful presentation! That’s a wonderful appetizer idea. I love how versatile and simple quinoa is – it’s such a bonus that it’s gluten-free, too.

  40. You almost have me convinced to give quinoa a try! I’ll start with one date and see how it goes. And yes, Dorie will incorporate dried fruit and nuts into just about anything.