Quinoa, Dried Cranberries, Apples, and Arugula Salad

This dish is like a healthier version of what I enjoy most on Thanksgiving…stuffing! Maybe it’s the quinoa providing less refined carbs and more protein. Or maybe it’s the flavor explosion of sweet dried cranberries, savory cumin, and tart apples with peppery arugula. I don’t really know but I’m telling you it works.

The beauty of this dish is that it works literally any time of the year. I love meal prepping this in the winter for my lunches or using this as a bangin’ fresh side dish paired with grilled chicken in the summer. When a dish brings together greens, whole grains, fruits, and seeds AND taste great, I get all the nutrition feels 🙂

I’m a huge fan of massaging greens that tend to be on the ‘weedy’ side (i.e. arugula, kale, mizuna, Swiss chard). If you haven’t massaged some greens by now, it’s time to get onboard. It changed my world when it comes to enjoying leafy greens outside of the classic, but rather tasteless, romaine. Here’s how to do it…

Massaging Greens 101

  1. Take said leafy green and place in medium-sized mixing bowl (here I use kale). IMG_7081.JPG
  2. Pour your vinaigrette on the greens. Hell, I usually just pour about 1 tbsp of evoo and 1 tbsp of acidity (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic, etc.) to get my started and adjust from there based on flavor.IMG_7093.JPG
  3. Massage the greens with your hands for about 1-2 minutes or until they turn a beautiful deep green color.

I find this really helps soften some of those tougher greens, helps release flavor, and ultimately makes them more edible so you don’t feel like a rabbit trying to consume them. The only downfall to this is dressed greens won’t last as long in the fridge so have a plan to use them up within 2-3 days of preparation. Personally, I don’t ever find that difficult because a pre-dressed green salad is a dietitians’ dream work lunch and saves precious time for busy schedules.

For this recipe I used Michigan apples because, well – why on earth wouldn’t you? The flavor of EverCrisp apples is perfect for this salad. Honeycrisp would work well also. Enjoy!

Quinoa, Dried Cranberry, Apple, and Arugula Salad

Author Elizabeth Weber

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/3 cup Dried cranberries, reduced-sugar
  • 1 Apple, cored and cubed Preferred: Michigan EverCrisp apple
  • 5 oz Arugula, pre-packaged
  • 1 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Pepitas optional
  • 1-2 tbsp Basil, fresh, chopped optional

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. After done cooking, allow quinoa to come to room temperature. While cooling, add dried cranberries, cumin, salt, and pepper and stir until evenly combined. Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

  2. While the quinoa is cooling, whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the arugula to a medium plastic bowl. Pour the vinegar-oil mix over the arugula and massage into the greens for ~1-2 minutes until all the arugula is lightly coated.

  3. Once the quinoa is chilled, cut the apple and combine the apple with the quinoa mixture.

  4. Serve over a bed of the dressed arugula and top with pepitas and fresh basil.

-EAW