Tag Archives: winter salad

Cranberry, Apple and Spinach Quinoa Salad

I don’t know about you but I love any recipe with directions that read, “combine all ingredients, and serve!” Which is why I love quinoa salads so much. Other than the actually cooking of the quinoa, every set of directions is the same. And the options are endless for what you can combine it with. Whether it is sweet, savory or a mixture of the two, it is one of the easiest, healthiest, go-to meals I use. This one is particularly great for winter since cranberry and apple elicit images of snuggling up by the fire (for some odd reason…).


  • 3 cups of cooked quinoa (use part broth, part water for added flavor)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • A handful or two of spinach or arugula, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped.
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Optional: 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled and added on separately


Cook quinoa: In a medium saucepan combine quinoa, broth, water and ½ tsp sea salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T olive oil in skillet. Add chopped onion and celery; cook and stir until  tender (about eight minutes). Add balsamic vinegar and stir until the vinegar cooks off, about another 60 seconds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Mix quinoa, arugula or spinach,  onion and celery mixture, apple, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl.

Make dressing: combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Toss with quinoa mixture or leave on the side.

This is great warm, at room temperature or chilled.

In other news…

My mom got chosen from a raffle to go on the field during last weekend’s Vikings game! I was so upset I couldn’t join but she took some great pics of being in the tunnel with the players running by and of her on the field! …..And then they lost – buzz kill. She had a blast though…


Cooking with Dawn Jackson Blatner – Fall Farro Salad

I had heard a lot about the cooking classes at The Chopping Block, but I just never seemed to get around to signing up for a class. Somehow I stumbled upon a class called 100% Nutritionist Approved Healthy Holiday Eats taught by renowned food and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner. If you haven’t heard of her check her out. Just a few fun facts about her. She is the nutritionist for the Chicago Cubs and the author of The Flexitarian Diet, a fabulous book about her philosophy to healthy eating. Her philosophy is basically this: pro-plant not anti-meat. She believes that wholesome, nourishing foods are magic for your body. For more about her visit her website, she has tons of fabulous recipes, tips, and articles she has written for major magazines.

I learned so much from her class and each recipe was so phenomenal that I think they really deserve a post of their own. First up is the….

Fall Farro Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

**Farro is an ancient relative of wheat. They look like popcorn kernels and are similar in texture to brown rice but they are round and have a nuttier flavor. Adding a grain to your salad makes it heartier and gives your dish a more fall/winter feel.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup uncooked farro, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoons pitted and quartered kalamata olives
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
  • 2 cups arugala
  • 1/2 orange, zested – about 1/2 teaspoon (Tip: use a cheese grater to zest to get chunkier pieces)

Orange vinnaigrette

  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, from zested orange above
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • S&P to taste


In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt and farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the olives, fennel, arugula and orange zest to the cooled farro and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until combine. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Let the salad stand for at least 10-15 minutes at room temperature & serve.

NOTE: To intensify flavors, let salad marinate in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

One more thing. If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in learning to cook, I highly suggest you check out the Chopping Block. I had such a wonderful experience there, it is a very nice establishment and the staff were so gracious and helpful. I thought it was a little pricey at first but after leaving I can honestly say it was worth every penny. It’s a great place for a fun, interactive date or a night out with girls. If nothing else, go solo – that’s what I did and I met some really cool people. Definitely Dishin’ approved!