French Fridays with Dorie: Quinoa and Nut Salad (Avec ou Sans Fruit?)

April Snow, Really?

April 1, April Fools’ Day! The joke’s on me. March came in like a lion and went out like a lion. It’s been snowing here in New England since last night. My yard is covered in the white stuff. We’re two weeks into spring, all the snow had melted. I planted peas, and I’m ready to plant lettuce. How is this possible?

On the positive side, my favorite things to both cook and eat are salads. Vegetable salads, grain salads, bean salad, green salads, you name it. They are all high on my list. Always the perfect thing to serve as a side dish, or a light meal, I make them all year round.

So I was very excited about this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie: Quinoa, Nut and Fruit Salad. Like the Savory Cheese and Herb bread we made at the beginning of March, this recipe was more of a template than a recipe.

I became a fan of quinoa last year. This Andean seed is cooked like rice and tastes like something between couscous and rice and pasta. I love the little white curl in the cooked quinoa. It’s very easy to cook. The only trick is that you must remember to rinse the quinoa very well because of the saponin coating that would make it taste soapy if it’s not removed.

Dorie suggested different nuts, fruits, and herbs to mix with the quinoa, but to put the salad together, you got to choose what your salad would be like. I took a look in the refrigerator to be inspired by the wide assortment of nuts and dried fruit. My choices were sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and slivered almonds. I decided to toast the nuts because I like the flavor better than raw. With a fresh bunch of cilantro in on hand, that was the natural choice for the herbal flavor.

As for the fruit, well, if you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that my husband Howard doesn’t do fruit with his food. The solution was to make a double batch: one with fruit and one without. Hers and his, avec et sans. For my batch, I added chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, and golden raisins. For his, rien.

Both batches turned out well. The lemon and ginger dressing was really refreshing. We didn’t serve it with greens or yogurt, but it was excellent on its own. I can see this salad being a summer favorite. I especially liked the jewel colors of my batch with dried fruit. The sans fruit version could have used some color, but some diced peppers, scallions, and tomatoes would have filled the bill. I can imagine a fresh fruit version with diced oranges or grapes. So many possibilities!

To see what the other members of French Fridays with Dorie have created from their template for Quinoa, Nut and Fruit Salad, check out their links. here. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Maybe you’ll even want to cook along with us on Fridays. It’s a wonderfully creative group of cooks.

Next week: Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli

With Fruit


Posted on 1 April 2011, in French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I like the color of dish! Good tip to use some diced bell pepper, scallions & tomato for color!

  2. I didn’t use the greens or yogurt but after reading some posts today I kind of had yogurt envy! How nice of you to make a double batch :)

  3. Your picture of the snow looks like my yard. I am so ready for spring!! Your salad looks perfect! I bet it would be great with chopped fresh veggies. I might have to experiment come summer. I really enjoyed this dish!

  4. Good for you for making both versions. Nana and I were completely new to quinoa and enjoyed the adventure. Me, a bit more than her this week :) We also woke up to a serious snow this morning outside of Philadelphia and could not believe it. This dish reminded me of something I would serve during the warmer weather and given the forecast….I think I liked it all the more for that reason :)

  5. Sweet of you to do his and hers salads! I think the yogurt would have been good with your cilantro choice. But BRRRRR that picture. That looks more like Daube weather than salad weather!

  6. I love the picture with the almonds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds. I could see myself using it as a desktop wallpaper!

  7. Wow! That’s a lot of snow! Your salad looks so good and I bet the cilantro gave it a nice punch of flavor.

  8. Ah – looks a lot like my backyard looked yesterday morning. Joke was on us, no?
    This recipe is definitely a blank canvas waiting to be played with!

  9. Hi, Betsy! Thanks for being so sweet! We have tomato seedlings ready to go and will be planning & laying out our vegetable garden today. But, it’s nice that you can enjoy the flavors of spring anyway! Enjoy your weekend!

  10. I think fresh fruit would be great too – I’ll have to try that. I can’t believe your snow!

  11. Wow, look at all that snow, very impressive. We’re a bit warmer here but can relate to wanting Spring to be warmer.
    That’s nice of you to make avec ou sans, I only made mine avec des fruits secs;-)
    Your bowl of quinoa salad looks delicious;-)

  12. I roasted my nuts, also, as I prefer the taste to raw. And my husband is allergic to many nuts and fruits, so i made a dish with everything for me, and put the bowl with quinoa and all the additives on the side for everybody to pick and choose:) easier that way.
    I love quinoa and this incarnation was really good.
    I cannot say anything about the weather, as we now live in SoCal, but I remember several years ago, when we were still in Ohio that it snowed on Easter. The kids could not go for the egg hunt, and all my daffodils and narcissus were buried!

  13. Sorry to hear about the snow. Ours is finally melting in
    Minneapolis. It has been a long hard winter, let’s hope spring
    comes (and stays) soon. Great post!

  14. I’m so glad you made a version without fruit! I am definitely going to make “with” and “without” versions when I try this one. I am with your husband…I usually don’t like fruit with salads or main dishes but I’m sometimes surprised (I did like the Chicken B’stilla with added raisins) so, we’ll see about the quinoa salad. At least if I have some without the fruit, I can compare :)

  15. I like the idea of making this a savory salad with tomatoes, scallions, and peppers. You really could change this up in so many ways. I always thought you washed quinoa to get rid of grit. I never realized that there is a coating that tastes like soap. Thanks for teaching me something new!

  16. I served mine plain, too, and really liked it. I might try the yogurt next time, although it was fine just the way it was. Nice post!

  17. Great photos, and good idea to toast your nuts

  18. Aren’t you a good wife…making avec and sans for hubby! Love your ingredient pictures!!

  19. I’m so impressed that you made two versions! I’m also enjoying reading about everyone’s fruit/nut/herb combinations. Both your versions sound great.

    You asked about the bowls in one of my post photos – they’re actually square(ish) ramekins. I love them.

  20. I didn’t make this week’s recipe, but was curious to see what all you guys did with it. It looks great. Love that you make two versions, that seems to be how we roll at my house as well (lol) But the variations are interesting!

  21. I skipped this one because my husband also dislikes fruit added to dishes.

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