The end of June is always exciting because it heralds the beginning of cherry season in the Northwest, and this year’s (farmer direct) crop is as delicious as ever. Although I demo’d a salad for my last blog post, summer is all about salads so I decided to try another one – Cherry, Wild Rice, and Quinoa salad.
This salad is very easy to make, tastes great, and looks pretty as well. I started with a recipe from the May/June 2012 issue of Eating Well magazine and adapted it to my liking. I had never had wild rice and quinoa together before, and I’ve got to say that they taste fabulous. The original recipe had you cooking the wild rice for a half hour and then adding the quinoa and cooking for another 15 minutes, but I’m in the habit of cooking quinoa with short grain brown rice for a full hour when I make it at home (in a pressure cooker, no less). I cooked both grains together for 40 minutes and they both turned out tender and delicious!
Along with the WA cherries, I also used our locally grown and roasted hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchards in Lynden as well as Beecher’s Smoked Flagship Cheddar, made in Seattle at the world-famous Pike Place Market. Both added a delicious element to the salad, along with the celery and apple cider vinegar dressing. All in all, customers thought the salad had a nutty, smoky flavor made richer with sweet cherries…and I heartily agree!
Cherry, Wild Rice, and Quinoa Salad
Makes eight 3/4 c servings
- 3/4 c wild rice
- 1/2 c red quinoa, rinsed well
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 t sea salt
- 1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
- 2 c halved & pitted fresh sweet cherries
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3/4 c coarse grated aged goat cheese or smoked cheddar (or you can dice it)
- 1/2 c roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Add wild rice and quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, whisk oil, vinegar, sea salt, and pepper in a measuring cup and prep your other ingredients.
- Drain grains and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch; make sure you drain the grains well.
- Once cooled, add the rice/quinoa mixture to a large bowl.
- Add the cherries, celery, cheese, and hazelnuts and toss to combine.
- Add the dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve at room temperature, or cold from the fridge.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient grain and was a staple in the ancient Incas’ diet. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that needs to be rinsed off the grain before cooking (it can upset your stomach). Rinse quinoa in cool water until the water is clear. This is easiest done in a very fine sieve.