Dried Fruit, Carrot and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Cumin Lemon Dressing

I feel a little guilty that I have managed to dodge New York winter for the past two years. Rather than dwell on thoughts of bitter cold trudges to the subway and seeing close to zero daylight during the week, I’m going to talk about fruit in salads. That’s fair right?

I’m a big fan of the whole savory-sweet thing (I mean, chocolate-covered pretzels + me = true l.o.v.e.). Acting on this affinity, I have been making an effort to involve more fruits in my otherwise savory salads.

Besides finding mind-blowing complimenting flavor combinations, fruit in a salad adds a bit of  freshness and unexpected warmth to the dish. One could almost say it added a bit of summertime to a dish. One could almost say that…

It feels a little rebellious too, which I enjoy.

This quinoa salad is for my people in the Northern Hemisphere (or Southern too!) who might need a little pick-me-up with their wholegrains. A burst of sweetness against a zesty and smokey cumin-lemon dressing with a dash of salt is the perfect way to fake some sun.

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Dried Fruit, Carrot & Avocado Quinoa Salad with Lemon Cumin Dressing
Adapted from Fine Cooking. Makes 2 servings

- 1/2 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
– 2 tablespoons dried apricots, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, grated on a box grater
– 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
– 1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
– 2 medium spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
– 1-2 tablespoons pepitas
- 1 large lemon
– 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
–  Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan bring 1 cup water, the 1/2 cup quinoa, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (The outer germ rings of the grain will remain chewy and white. Some germ rings may separate from the grain and will look like white squiggles.) Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and place it in a large mixing bowl to cool.

In a small bowl, finely grate the zest from half the lemon and then squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice. Whisk in the olive oil, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss the dressing with the quinoa, cranberries, apricots, carrots, coriander, avocado, spring onions, and pepitas. Season to taste with salt and pepper, Can be served cold or at room temperature.

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Extra thoughts:
This would make a nice side for grilled chicken or fish. Or do what I did: add some leftover chickpeas and serve it over a big bed of baby spinach with an extra spritz of lemon for a lunch salad.

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