While I enjoy all fruit, I never purchase cherries too often because I always have felt limited as to what I could do with them. Usually the only thing I made was a basic fresh cherry pie or an apple cherry crisp.
But then I realized that I ain’t no basic chick and made this bright salad with all of the good things in life. Hells yes.
I’ll be honest with you, most of the time when I make a quinoa salad, I just throw what I have in the fridge in and somehow it always tastes exceptional. Probably because anything with quinoa is wonderful, as it absorbs flavor and adds a good chew.
This time I was aiming for a vegetarian nutritional powerhouse salad that you could really feel good about eating. I also wanted it to be gorgeous enough to make for a party or a girl’s night.
Check. And check.
Let’s go over a few of my favorite ingredients:
Ancient Harvest Quinoa: I used a mixture of Ancient Harvest’s red quinoa, tri-color quinoa and their traditional quinoa in this recipe to give the salad a gorgeous color. You can use any of them; it won’t matter. I usually always keep my quinoa in a mason jar and mix them all together. The quinoa provides a natural vegetarian protein and plenty of fiber. Did you know that quinoa only takes takes 15 minutes to make? WIN.
Cherries: If you haven’t heard, cherries are full of anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. If you aren’t including cherries in your diet, it’s time to start NOW. If available, fresh cherries are the way to go. Of course, you can always sub peaches or blueberries if you can’t seem to find cherries and/or if they aren’t seasonal where you live.
Goat cheese: Creamy, tart and undeniably one of my favorite cheeses. I don’t eat cheese in my salads frequently, but had to make an exception here.
Basil: I always buy a few basil plants during the summer and keep them around the house; it’s much less expensive then purchasing it from the store.
Sweet potatoes: I roasted cubed sweet potatoes with a variety of spices to really enhance the salad’s texture and flavor. The sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamin A and C. Plus they’ll help to keep you satisfied.
Lightly candied walnuts: Crunchy, sweet and packed with omega 3s. What more do you need to know?
Okay, enough talk. It’s time to make this salad for your weekend eats. If you make this recipe, be sure to tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram so I can see your lovely creation! xo.
- Serves: 4 servings
- Serving size: 1/4th of recipe (about 1 heaping cup)
- Calories: 326
- Fat: 12.5g
- Carbohydrates: 50.2g
- Sugar: 18.7g
- Fiber: 5.6g
- Protein: 7.5g
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons finely diced fresh basil leaves
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pitted and diced sweet dark red cherries
- 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
- FOR THE CANDIED WALNUTS:
- 1/4 cup walnut halves & pieces
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (brown sugar also works)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
- While oven is preheating you can start cooking the quinoa. Add 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup quinoa to a medium saucepan; place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water and quinoa are boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork. Pour into a large bowl.
- While quinoa is cooking you can roast the sweet potatoes: In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt together. Pour onto prepared foil-lined sheet and place in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are roasted and almost fork tender. You don't want them to get mushy, so I find that 15 minutes is perfect. Once done, you can allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to the bowl with the quinoa.
- While sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, you can start preparing the candied nuts: Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add walnuts, coconut sugar and coconut oil to a small saucepan; stir constantly until the sugar begins to melt, caramelize and turn golden. This should take 3-5 minutes. Transfer nuts to a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool completely.
- Prepare dressing by whisking olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, honey and basil together in a small bowl. Add dressing to the quinoa and sweet potato mixture; stir well to combine. Fold in cherries, goat cheese and walnuts. Garnish with extra goat cheese and basil, if desired. Serves 4. Enjoy!
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