Quirky Quinoa – French Fridays with Dorie

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It’s 7AM on Saturday and it’s the first time my head has been clear enough from other life clutter to think about cooking. Seriously – last night we had cereal, fruit, and milk for dinner.

So once again, I attempt my French Fridays with Dorie recipe on Saturday. This week’s recipe is Quinoa (pronounced KEENwah), fruit, and nut salad. It’s suggested to be served on greens with a dollop of yogurt on top.Dorie Greenspan's quinoa, fruit, and nut salad from Around My French Table

Quinoa is all the rage these days. It is a highly nutritious grain that originates from South America – high in protein, fiber, antioxidants. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also gluten-free and can be ground up and used as a flour.

Quinoa – before and after cooking

The one time I made quinoa for dinner as a substitute for rice, the results were less than stellar and the family voted it off the table. Being the open-minded food lover that I am, I’m back for seconds. Perhaps I missed the mark when I cooked it the first time. For the record, I tasted it before I added any seasonings today and the taste wasn’t particularly appealing – a nutty, earthy flavor with an emphasis on earthy. But the mind is staying open….

Something about this recipe – maybe the yogurt? – made me think of breakfast. I also grew up in a family that ate a lot of hot cereal for breakfast – various grains from oatmeal to kashi. Then, yesterday at the store I spied an herb plant called orange mint. This recipe calls for a fresh herb, suggesting anything from cilantro to basil to mint. The orange mint sounded perfect and very breakfast-like to me. Surely if my family will eat linguine for breakfast, they’ll try this???

The dressing for the salad combines olive oil, lemon juice, and ginger. I used meyer lemons from my tree, Italian olive oil, and some McCormick’s roasted powdered ginger. I also added some lemon zest and orange zest. For the fruits and nuts, I used pine nuts, almonds, dried apricots, dried cherries, and golden raisins.

Dorie Greenspan's Quinoa, fruit, and nut saladDid this make me say OMG! Yummy? Honestly, not quite but it tastes good enough to sell me on continuing to try quinoa. Dormant Chef had seconds and daughter tried it – not in love but at least in like.

Quinoa is a wonderful protein rich base that can marry to so many flavors. I think the salad will only improve as it sits on my counter and in the fridge. And it could benefit from stronger hits of the orange mint and lemon and orange zest. Also, pecans might have been a better choice than pine nuts for this breakfast version.

And what was Dormant Chef’s first variation request? – bacon and shallots. Come to think of it, that could work really well too.

Have you tried quinoa? And if you have, what is your favorite preparation?

If you want to read about more experiences with this recipe, check out the French Fridays with Dorie web site and I encourage you to buy Dorie Greenspan’s award-winning cookbook Around My French Table. You will cherish the purchase and learn from each recipe and story that she shares.

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33 Responses to Quirky Quinoa – French Fridays with Dorie

  1. Laughin' In The Rain April 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    great blog btw!

  2. Laughin' In The Rain April 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I love quinoa and the bf not so much, BUT, last week I made blackberry breakfast quinoa and this week a blueberry batch, and when mixed with blueberry yogurt it is so so good! I love that he’s diggin it because it’s so quick and easy for him to get protein at breakfast while he’s running out the door.

  3. Anita Baranovsky April 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Try Quinoa as Tabbouleh or Moroccan style as a side for lamb stew Yummy
    I use it quite a bit.

  4. Terra April 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    I love love quinoa, and use it all the time. I tried it once as a risotto, turned out amazing:-) Orange mint herb, now my ears just perked up! That sounds so refreshing, and delicious. Your dish looks delicious!
    Take care,

  5. Teresa April 4, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I like your breakfast version. Quinoa’s high protein would be especially helpful in the morning.

    We use it mainly as a substitute for couscous, as my partner can’t eat gluten. I also like to cook it in stock, rather than water, to infuse it with a little more flavour.

  6. Scraps April 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    The last quinoa I made was flavored with cilantro and lime to go with shrimp, I think. The first time I tried it in place of brown rice under albondigas–it was divine and now we keep it in the house all the time.

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

      Cilantro and lime are two of my personal favorite flavors – used them in a marinade for tri-tip last night. You always have such interesting ideas – thanks for sharing!

  7. Karen from Globetrotter Diaries April 4, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    O I love quinoa– in a million ways, just whatever fresh herbs and veggies i have laying around with some lemon juice and good extra virgin olive oil. This looks delicious!

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks Karen – I’m definitely sold on the versatility of this grain and will keep trying to create interesting dishes with it and use it as a healthy addition to our meals. Love having it in the fridge as an option when I’m starving but want to avoid the unhealthy choices that are so easy to make when you are busy.

  8. Priyanka April 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Hi…Have an award waiting for you in my blog….Do claim it… 🙂

  9. SharleneT. April 3, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    Hello from SITS! I love quinoa for its adaptability to so many recipes. Just bought another 1.5 pounds at Whole Foods, last night, for just $6.49. Happened to go to Sonoma-Williams (don’t ask…) a little later and they were selling black quinoa (14 ozs) for $13.65! Suffice to say, I did NOT buy the black quinoa and just wonder if anyone has and what’s the difference in taste and texture?

    Come visit when you can and share the comment love!

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      Other than the amazing color it can add to a dish, I don’t know if the 13.65 black quinoa is really worth it. Good question. Someone in the French Fridays group used a multi-color quinoa and it was beautiful but perhaps not worth that much $$$.

      • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:32 am #

        By the way – I did visit your solar cooking blog last week – those stuffed chicken thighs looked fantastic!

  10. [email protected] April 3, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Came by from SITS. My husband and I have tried it and like it a lot. Our favorite recipe so far is for “burgers.”

    • omgyummy April 9, 2011 at 7:58 am #

      Hi Karen – how do you flavor the burgers and what holds them together? Sounds interesting!

  11. rsmacaalay April 3, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    I never had tried quinoa and I am intrigued on its taste, I also find a lot of recipes online that uses this ingredient. I hope I can see it here in our supermarkets

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:29 am #

      You are so adventurous in what you cook – you will definitely enjoy trying to create with quinoa – if you can get your hands on some! Let me know.

  12. Yuri April 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I’m gonna take a wild guess and say ur favorite color is red 🙂 I love quinoa but this wasn’t my fav recipe. Lovely pics and may I just say I’m having meyer lemon envy?

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Red is the accent color in my kitchen and it does make me happy – even though from a color perspective it’s supposed to be aggressive, I think. Oh well – I’m never really one to go with the mainstream thinking 🙂

      This wasn’t my favorite recipe but I learned a lot of from it, which is the best part.

      Meyer lemons are the best part of my tiny backyard – so wonderful to have around.

  13. MOMSICLE VIBE April 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    PS: rinsing the raw grain and toasting it lightly before cooking is supposed to soften up the bitterness in the flavour…

  14. MOMSICLE VIBE April 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Found you via SITS. I love quinoa. My husband introduced me to it 9 yrs ago and it has become a staple in our house. I often prep it using a homemade stock instead of plain water and some curry powder is nice with the nutty flavour. It is often our grain when having a simple stir fry. I know what you mean, it isn’t really something to stand up and squeal about, but I’ve come to rely on it as a trusty stand-by grain. The salad sounds great and I love the breakfast take on it. I am in need of inspiration in the breakfast department. I will try this!!!

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:21 am #

      I completely agree with you – it is not really a stand-alone item but a fantastic base for so many things especially since it is so healthy. Definitely works for breakfast – give it a go and see what Kaleigh suggested above — sound simple and oh so good.

      And thanks for the suggestion about toasting it – I’ll have to give that a try.

  15. Kaleigh April 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    My favorite quinoa dish is also a breakfast option that I love preparing after a morning workout!
    I use a cup of the buff-colored quinoa and add chopped pecans, cinnamon, agave sweetener, and blackberries or blueberries. Very healthy and yummy!!

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Kaleigh – that sounds fantastic. Super simple but so good. I almost added cinnamon to mine but I didn’t because of the pine nuts. Next time I would use pecans and try some cinnamon.

      Ali has been asking for your deviled eggs – when will you be up north??? We need to have a visit 🙂

  16. Mary April 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I think bacon might be a welcome addition to any recipe any time of day :).

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      You’d obviously fit right in at our dinner, lunch, or breakfast table 🙂

  17. Cher April 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    It looks lovely. I found the flavors on this were superior the second day around (although, I agree with you that I would have liked a stronger citrus flavor).

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks – I found it a little challenging to make this visually appealing but I think it turned out ok. The flavors improved with a day but I would hit it even stronger next time.

  18. Michelle April 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    That looks delicious! I love quinoa. 🙂

  19. Grams April 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I’ve tried quinoa a couple of times with similar experiences. I want to love it because it’s healthy and a grain with good protein counts, but I just can’t love it. It think it’s kind of a textural thing. I can tolerate it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it. Maybe I’ll try something like you made with fruit and nuts.

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      My personal opinion at this point is that it’s all about the flavors you marry it with and it seems like you can put it with almost anything. So pick your favorite things and add quinoa. Your tastebuds will be happy and your stomach will be full 🙂

  20. Adriana April 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Your quinoa looks scrumptious! I just finished the last of my leftovers and they were fantastic, especially after sitting in the fridge for almost two days. I like salads like this, but with savory ingredients, so I can definitely see bacon and shallots as a great alternative served warm. My ‘other’ quinoa salad has basil, sundried tomatoes, and white balsamic, plus lots of salt and black pepper.

    • omgyummy April 4, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      Sundried tomatoes, basil, and white balsamic sounds wonderful! I am just loving all the great ideas I am getting from these comments. So much fun to learn about food this way. Surprisingly, my daughter has gone back for seconds so looks like quinoa will be a keeper in our house.

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