Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad
Often, when hosting a party or get-together, it can be daunting to come up with a dish that will impress the guests. Finding one that is healthy but still flavorful can prove to be even more difficult. Luckily, this Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad is a game-changer. The combination of tart cranberries, hearty quinoa, and crunchy almonds makes this dish simply delicious, as well as thoughtfully nutritious.
Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa
The quinoa used in this recipe is not only a fantastic source of complete protein, but it also contains dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and folate. It is naturally dairy, gluten, and nut-free, so individuals with allergies can enjoy it as well. Furthermore, research has indicated that ancient grains, such as quinoa, are associated with a decreased risk of chronic illness and obesity.
Cranberries have a lot to offer nutritionally. Due to their tart flavor, they have a lower amount of natural sugars than other fruits, while containing vitamins A and C, manganese and fiber. Cranberry juice has also been shown to have a high level of antioxidants and other properties that can help fight inflammation, protect against cancer growth, and improve gum health as well.
Almond for Added Taste and Texture
In this recipe, almond serves not only as another source of protein but also adds a crunchy texture to the salad. This can not be easily replicated with just the quinoa and cranberries alone. Additionally, almonds are a great source of healthy fats, phosphorus, and Vitamin E. To ensure a good crunchy texture, its important to remember to add the almonds to the salad as the last step, as they can get soggy when put in too early.
Putting it All Together
The beauty of this salad lies in its simplicity. All of the key ingredients are cooked individually and then combined together at the end. The first step is to cook the quinoa according to instructions, usually around 15-20 minutes. While that’s cooking, one can prepare the cranberries and almonds. To do this, place the cranberries in a small saucepan with a little water and cook on low heat until they become nice and juicy. Then, set them aside. Occasionally, one may want to use fresh cranberries instead of frozen. If so, this step would be different, as fresh cranberries should be added during the last two minutes of cooking the quinoa, so they can rehydrate and also stay somewhat firm with a slight crunch.
Toasting the almonds is an optional step, but it does add quite a nice flavor to the finished product. To do this, heat a pan on medium and add in the almonds, stirring often to prevent burning. Once the almonds are toasted and lightly golden in color, transfer them to a plate or bowl and set aside. At this point, the quinoa should be finished cooking. Once cool, fluff and place in a large bowl.
Finally, it’s time to combine everything. Start by adding in the cranberries and stir everything together. Then add the toasted almonds, a pinch of salt, and some extra virgin olive oil if desired. Stir until everything is nicely incorporated and a vibrant color is present.
Creative Serving Tips
This Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad can be served on its own as a main course or light lunch dish. It is also great served as a side along with a grilled piece of fish or roasted vegetables. Additionally, it can be used as part of a creative brunch spread, by adding cooked eggs to it or simply as a topping for a toasted piece of whole grain bread.
This humble dish is anything but dull. A flavorful combination of tart and sweet, with a hint of nutty crunch, this Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad is a great way to enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal for any occasion. All of the individual ingredients can be pre-made and stored in the refrigerator for convenience, making it a perfect option for pre-preparing a meal ahead of time. So don’t lose sight of the potential of this colorful salad, it’s sure to offer a fulfilling and energizing burst of taste and nutrition to any table.
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