In my grocery store, fresh cranberries are only available in the fall, so this is a true seasonal recipe -- a rarity in this day and age!
- I toast the walnuts before I chop them because it's easier; toasting makes them crumble.
- This salad is best made 4 to 24 hours in advance. Allow the salad to come to room temperature and garnish with the chopped green onion just before serving.
- Cutting the cranberries in half is time consuming, but it makes a big difference in the texture of the finished salad.
- The cranberries may be steeped in the sugar syrup up to 1 day ahead. The longer the berries sit in the syrup, the darker they get on the inside...and the syrup gets darker, too.
- Don’t be put off by the amount of sugar used to make the syrup as only a portion of it goes into the salad. Even after hours of soaking they are not as sweet as the canned variety. In fact, you can make a simple cranberry relish by just doing the second step of this recipe. The remaining syrup can be saved to make drinks. New England Shirley Temple, anyone? Just mix seltzer and syrup.
Makes 4-8 servings
Prep time: about 1 hour plus 4 hours to chill.
1 cup red quinoa (half of a 12-ounce box)
¾ to 1 cup walnuts
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons walnut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon wine or rice vinegar
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
3 green onions, rinsed and chopped (including green tops)
- Meanwhile, spread walnuts in a baking pan and toast in a 325 oven until lightly golden under skins (about 4 minutes in my oven.) Chop the nuts. In a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar and 1-4 tablespoons of the cranberry syrup. Gently mix in the red quinoa and cranberry halves. Taste and add salt as needed. (The last few times I've made this recipe, I forgot the salt and it tasted just fine.) Add up to ¼ cup more syrup to sweeten and moisten salad as desired. Reserve remaining syrup for other uses such as New England Shirley Temples. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.