This Quinoa Cranberry Salad is full of fresh, feel good flavours that everyone will love! With nutrient rich spinach, sweet dried cranberries and a zippy lemon dressing, it is able to stand alone as a protein packed, healthy meal, or can be served as a side. It's easy to make ahead of time and is naturally gluten free.
1 tablespoon / 15mlsmaple syrup , real maple syrup not pancake syrup. Agave can be used as an alternative.
2 tablespoons / 30mlsextra virgin olive oil(omit to make the recipe oil-free)
½teaspoonfreshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
½teaspoonsalt , plus more to taste
To cook quinoa on the stovetop
Rinse the quinoa well in a fine sieve then add it to a dry pan and gently toast it over medium heat for a couple of minutes, keeping it moving, until it starts to smell a little nutty. Once it does turn off the heat.
Add the water, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes until the water has mostly absorbed.
Turn off the heat, cover tightly and leave to steam for at least 5 minutes but longer is fine. Allow to cool completely before fluffing with a fork and continuing with the recipe. If you are in a hurry to cool it, you can spread it out in a thin layer on a cool plate or baking sheet.
To cook quinoa in an Instant Pot
Rinse the quinoa in a sieve then tip the wet quinoa into the insert of your Instant Pot. Saute over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently until it starts to smell nutty. Once it does turn the Instant Pot off.
Add 1 cup of water to the quinoa, stir, then put the lid on and seal the vent. Set to 2 minutes high pressure and leave the pressure to naturally release. Remove the lid, allow to cool and fluff with a fork before using.
To make the salad
Shred the spinach and stir it through the cooled quinoa. Add the cranberries and stir them through too.
Zest the lemons and add it to a small jar or bowl. Juice the lemons and add the juice to the jar/bowl with the zest. Add the maple syrup, optional olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake it or whisk it together.
Pour over the quinoa mixture and toss well to coat. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
It's important to cook the quinoa and allow it to cool completely before you start. I find it easiest to cook the quinoa the day before I actually want to make the salad or to make extra for another meal and save the leftovers. If you are in a hurry though, cook it then spread it in a thin layer on a plate or baking tray so that it cools quickly.
Follow my instructions for cooking the quinoa and don't overcook it.
Make sure the spinach is nice and fresh
Fresh lemon and not lemon juice from a bottle gives a much better flavour.
Don't use fresh cranberries in this recipe. They are way too sour. Dried cranberries work best.
Storage & making aheadYou can make the salad up to 2 days ahead but you must be sure to use very fresh spinach. If you want to keep the spinach extra fresh and textured, make the rest of the salad as instructed and shred and stir the spinach through just before serving.Individual components of the salad can be made ahead too to save you time on the day you want to make it. You can cook the quinoa and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days before and the dressing can be mixed and kept in a jar in the fridge for a few days too before using.Store quinoa salad leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.