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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