Berry-Cherry Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette

VeganGluten-FreeSoy-FreeRefined Sugar-FreeEasyVegetarianDairy Free

This savory-sweet salad is perfect for summertime.  It is a healthy, satisfying, plant-based meal that can be served as an entree for two or divided four ways as a side salad.  The tart and juicy berries and cherries pair wonderfully with the sweet and salty toasted walnuts and creamy avocado.  And the tangy balsamic dressing brings everything together to create a light and refreshing salad that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.  I love the vibrant colors and how beautiful this salad looks when served.  The recipe is flexible and you can increase the amount of quinoa, avocado or nuts if you are looking to make it even more filling.

The candied walnuts are crispy, salty and sweet so definitely don’t skip them.  They add healthy fats and plant-based protein to the meal.   You can certainly buy candied walnuts but I like to make my own to keep them refined sugar-free and control the amount of salt.  My ten-minute simple recipe uses raw walnuts, avocado oil (instead of butter), maple syrup (instead of brown or processed sugar) and a little salt.  They toast quickly while you prepare the dressing and the salad ingredients so it doesn’t add much time to the total recipe preparation.  Totally worth it.  Plus, they will be slightly warm if you make them yourself which adds a nice element to the salad.

If you have a walnut allergy you can substitute my Sweet & Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

For added plant-based protein and texture I topped the salad with cooked quinoa.  You can also add hemp seeds for even more plant-based protein and nutrients.  If you haven’t tried my trick for perfectly cooked quinoa, definitely read up on that here.  I like to prepare a big batch of quinoa  (2 cups of uncooked quinoa to 4 cups of water) at the start of the week to top off my salads throughout the week.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and has a nut-free option so it works well for everyone.  If you give it a try, please snap a pic and tag #eatingbyelaine and @eatingbyelaine on InstagramTwitter or Facebook so I can see you enjoying your awesome creations.

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Berry-Cherry Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette

  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 2 entree salads or 4 side salads 1x


This sweet and savory summertime salad is filling and full of healthy ingredients. It is light and refreshing and yet loaded with flavor. This recipe makes two entree salads or four side salad. There will be leftover dressing that can be stored and used on future salads. It is vegan, gluten-free and has a nut-free option.


  • Candied Walnuts*
  • 1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Salad Ingredients
  • 4 cups baby romaine or mixed greens (about 56 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 4 fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (see my post on How to Make Perfectly Cooked Quinoa)
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds (optional for added protein)


  1. Prepare the candied walnuts: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the walnuts, avocado oil, maple syrup and salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to coat evenly. Place on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread the walnuts out so they are not touching. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
  2. Prepare the dressing: While the candied walnuts cook, prepare the vinaigrette. Place oil, vinegar, shallot, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt in a mini food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set side.
  3. Plate your salads: If preparing two entree salads, divide the salad ingredients between two large plates or bowls. Start with the lettuce and then layer on the blueberries, cherries, strawberries, quinoa, red onions, avocado and hemp seeds (if using). Divide the cooled, candied walnuts between the two salads. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of vinaigrette on each salad, toss and enjoy. You will have dressing leftover for future salads. Store dressing in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Shake vigorously before serving.


* for a nut-free version use my Sweet & Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in place of the Candied Walnuts.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Salad

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