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Meatless Monday: Warm Red Quinoa Salad

February 14th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Okay, so quinoa may not be the first thing to come to mind for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, but what better day to think about heart health? This warm and hearty salad is loaded with super foods — broccoli for vitamins A & K (and lowering cholesterol), dried cranberries for antioxidants, walnuts for healthy omega-3s, and the aforementioned quinoa, a source of protein. And, it’s naturally red. To go totally vegan, substitute sauteed tofu for the feta. This would also make a nice side dish to some wild salmon. Happy *Heart* Day!

Recipe: Warm Red Quinoa Salad with Broccoli, Cranberries & Walnuts


  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed*)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed (optional)


  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • squirt of lemon juice

Instructions: In saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add quinoa, stirring to coat with the oil and cook for 1 minute, continuing to stir. Add water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. Heat dry skillet over medium low heat and toast walnuts, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and shallot to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots begin to brown. Add broccoli and water, cover and cook until broccoli is tender — about 5 minutes. Uncover, add cranberries and remove from heat.

Combine quinoa, broccoli, walnuts and vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Add feta, if using, and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

* Note: I used pre-rinsed quinoa in this recipe. If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse it in a fine mesh colander and let drain for several minutes before cooking.

quinoa broccoli feta cranberries

Feeding Baby: Broccoli’s not recommended until baby is well established on solid foods as it is harder to digest. For babies 8+ months, pull out a few pieces of the cooked broccoli, a spoonful of quinoa and puree with a little water as needed to reach the desired consistency. (The boy is in a no-mingling-of-flavors phase, so the above is his salad, deconstructed. This is also ideal for serving finger-feeding toddlers.)

(And just so you don’t think I’m a total Valentine’s scrooge — here’s our dessert: black and pink cookies …

black and pinks

Tags: baby food · meatless monday · recipes · vegetarian · weeknight meals · whole grains · winter

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 faith moser // Feb 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    that quinoa salad looks amazing! i can’t wait to make the recipe… thanks for sharing! happy v day :)
    faith moserĀ“s last blog post post that chocolate!

  • 2 Sandra B // Feb 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Please help me, because this sounds delicious and I want to make it: at what point do you wash the quinoa? I have a tri-color quinoa (red, black and white) and it needs to get washed just the same as the ‘regular’ stuff. Pretty please because I’ve never been able to get an answer on this from anybody, do you wash the quinoa before or after toasting it?
    Can you tell this has exasperated me for some time? :)
    Thank you!!!

  • 3 Heather // Feb 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    This looks great (I would do feta AND tofu ;)! We make a salad like this all the time and my 10 month old digs quinoa (usually). Thanks for all the inspiration. I would love for you to check out my blog:

  • 4 foodietots
    Twitter: foodietots
    // Feb 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks, Faith!

    Sandra – Rinse first! I had pre-rinsed quinoa, but I’ve just updated the instructions to clarify. Rinse and let it drain a little, then toss it in the oil.

    Heather – Feta and tofu, good call!

  • 5 Lisa // Sep 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    I just had to look this recipe up. My son’s Pre-K class is putting together a favorite recipe book and I had to add this recipe (the correct recipe). We’ve been throwing this together from memory, I needed to get the correct measurements. Definitely a favorite of my boys, both to eat and to cook. My 4 and 5 year old love to chop the broccoli, measure the quinoa, and whisk the vinaigrette together. Eating is always more fun for them when they can help with the cooking too!