Warm Quinoa Salad

Harvested Quinoa Seeds

Harvested Quinoa Seeds

By Cat, May 2010 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1.  Salads Menu; 2. Quinoa (About); 3. Vinaigrette Dressings Menu; 4. Soaking, Sprouting Nuts & Seeds; 5. Toasting Nuts & Seeds; 6. Stevia (about)

A cousin of amaranth, quinoa is not really a grain, but is often included in that category. It is actually a relative of green leafy veggies like spinach and chard, in the Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae family. Its seed is very tiny, has a fluffy, creamy and slightly crunch texture, and tastes a bit nutty when cooked.

The Orange Blossom Dressing is sweet and fragrant; if you are avoiding sugar, sweeten with a tiny pinch of stevia extract powder or about 1/4 tsp dark liquid stevia extract.

Warm Quinoa Salad

This recipe, for both the salad and the orange blossom dressing, is adapted from Warm Quinoa Salad by Noelle Carter (Originally from the LA Times) (1).

I’m not not familiar with Marcona almonds, so I looked it up on Wikipedia:

“The Marcona variety of almond, which is shorter, rounder, sweeter, and more delicate in texture than other varieties, originated in Spain and is becoming popular in North America and other parts of the world. Marcona almonds are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil.”

I don’t think I can get them here in rural Montana, so I would just use regular almonds (preferably sprouted or at least soaked overnight, then allowed to dry), and saute them in the oil before adding the beans, apple cubes and chard.

Orange blossom honey is not readily available here in rural Montana. I prefer to use raw, local honey, and add orange blossom water (or freshly grated orange zest) for the flavor (2). If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar are reasonable substitutes; or for a different flavor, sherry vinegar.

The dressing recipe makes more than is needed in the salad. The extra will keep in the fridge about 5 days. Salad serves 2.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Orange Blossom Vinaigrette (makes 2 cups)
  • 1 – 2 oranges (for 1/2 cup juice and ½ tsp zest)
  • 2 Tbsp orange blossom honey (OR 2 Tbsp raw local honey and ½ tsp grated orange zest) (OR, if avoiding sugar, use a tiny pinch of stevia extract powder or about ¼ tsp dark liquid stevia extract)
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (OR rice/white wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Unrefined sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Salad and Assembly
  • Toasted sliced almonds (garnish)*
  • butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • Unrefined sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  •  ¼ lb. (4 oz.) haricots vert, or small green beans
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • ¼ lb. (4 oz.) swiss chard
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 cup red quinoa, sprouted
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp Marcona (or other) almonds, preferably sprouted and dried, then toasted or roasted, for garnish
  • Equipment:
  • Small and medium saucepan
  • small and large bowl
  • cast iron skillet


  1. Optional: Quinoa, sprout and dry. Almonds: If whole, soak overnight, or sprout them over 2 – 3 days, then dry and slice, or at least split them in two (they should readily do this after sprouting). If pre-sliced, soak them overnight, then dab off any moisture.
  2. Toast/roast sliced almonds: toast on baking sheet at 300 degrees for 15 minutes; set aside. OR: soak your nuts, then roast them at lowest oven setting for 24 hours.
  3. Orange Blossom Vinaigrette: Bring juice and zest (if using) to a simmer in small saucepan. Reduce to yield  ⅔ cup, about 10-12 min. Remove from heat and place in medium bowl. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk in honey, then vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify. Season to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  5. Salad: 
  6. Peel and seed squash; cut into ½-inch cubes. You only need about ½ cup of cubes for the salad; save remainder for another use.
  7. Trim ends of haricots vert (if using regular green beans, trim ends and snap into 1″ – 2″ lengths). Peel & core apple, then cut into ½” cubes.
  8. Remove ribs of chard and chop leaves coarsely, to make about 1 cup.
  9. Heat oven to 400°F. Toss squash with ½ tsp oil and season with pinch of salt & pepper. Spread cubes in single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender and golden, about 10 – 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  10. Meanwhile, blanch beans in boiling water about 1 minute. Remove from heat, drain, then shock in bowl of ice water. Remove and set aside.
  11. Heat ½ Tbsp oil in saute pan over high heat. Add beans, apple cubes and chopped chard together and season with salt and pepper. Saute, tossing frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, adding ¼ cup vinaigrette toward the end to deglaze the pan. Add sauteed mixture to squash in the bowl.
  12. Bring broth to a simmer in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in quinoa and rosemary sprig and gently simmer, covered, just until quinoa is tender, about 2 min if sprouted or 15 min if not sprouted. Remove from heat and drain, discarding the rosemary.
  13. Assembly & Serving: Toss warm quinoa and Marcone almonds in the bowl with the squash. Dress with additional vinaigrette as desired and season to taste with salt & pepper.
  14. Mound warm salad on 2 plates, drizzling  additional vinaigrette over each, if desired. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve.


  1. Warm Quinoa Salad by Noelle Carter, in our local Daily Inter Lake newspaper, May 5, 2010 edition (Originally from the LA Times): latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-sos-20100429,0,5907226.story
  2. Seasoned Advice, on orange blossom water vs orange extract: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/43281/whats-the-difference-between-orange-extract-and-orange-blossom-water

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