Naming stuff is hard.
Every single time I write a recipe I struggle with naming it. I want to be descriptive enough without being too wordy. I also want to make sure that the main ingredients are highlighted. But then in the case of salads like this one, I am leaving out so many awesome ingredients for the sake of brevity. A challenge indeed.
It’s a good thing I haven’t had to concern myself with picking the perfect name for a kid. I can’t even imagine, considering it was difficult enough choosing the names for my pets. Actually, Kannon (the boy dog) came with his name and we didn’t mind it so we kept it. The rest of the pets went through multiple names before we settled on Kato for the cat and Sophie for the girl dog.
I really struggled with naming this salad too. It isn’t just apples, spinach and dried cherries. There are lentils, carrots, green onions and pine nuts too. Oh and quinoa of course. A lot of really great stuff that might seem weird thrown together in a salad, but trust me it’s so good.
This makes a huge salad. With having so much good stuff in there, I really would call this a salad-as-a-meal type of recipe and you can definitely make up this recipe to have a light spring supper or serve a few friends for a luncheon. This is my kind of ‘make up for the week and take to work’ type of recipe too.
The dressing is kind of different. It uses lime marmalade which gives it some tartness but really it’s used for the sweetness more than anything. If you don’t have lime marmalade or can’t find it, I’ve made it using orange marmalade. The flavor with orange marmalade is different but still very tasty so I can definitely recommend using another citrus marmalade instead of lime marmalade if you need to. There’s red wine vinegar to give it some zing too.
I would recommend cooking your quinoa with some vegetable broth to impart some added flavor. You can follow my quick video instructions to cook quinoa here. Just substitute the water with vegetable broth.
I used a baby spinach and baby kale mix when I made up this recipe. I didn’t bother cutting up the greens at all because they were quite small. If you’re using spinach that has bigger leaves then I’d suggest tearing the leaves into smaller pieces so it’s a bit easier to eat. Nobody wants a giant spinach leaf to slap them in the face while they’re trying to shovel quinoa salad into their mouth.
If you can’t find dried cherries or don’t have them on hand, you can substitute dried cranberries instead. The flavor won’t be the same. To me dried cherries have a nice rich hint of cinnamon to them. Dried cranberries won’t have that, but it’s not the end of the world. The dried cherries get nice and plump as the salad sits.
Pine nuts can be pricey. They’re one of the treats I like to indulge in. If you’d rather not use pine nuts you could substitute pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds. Again, the flavor or the texture won’t be the same but you’re going for some crunch in the salad and the subtle flavor will work.
The type of apple you use is up to you. I would recommend a nice crisp, firm apple like a Gala or Granny Smith. They hold up nicely and stay crunchy even after a few days in the salad. I don’t think a Spartan or Red Delicious would hold up like that, and would probably get mushy after a while.
- 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 1½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed if necessary
- 2 large crisp apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 x 14 oz can lentils, drained and rinsed well
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach
- ¼ cup lime marmalade
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Pinch salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add quinoa. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water has all absorbed. Fluff lightly with a fork. Let cool.
- In a small bowl combine diced apples with lemon juice. Toss to coat evenly. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine cooked and cooled quinoa, rinsed lentils, grated carrot, chopped green onions, dried cherries, pine nuts and spinach. Add in apples and lemon juice.
- In a small bowl whisk together lime marmalade, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic and dried basil. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Cover and let sit in fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.
So now that you know what is in the salad what do you think you would have named it? I would love to hear your suggestions!