Berry Cherry Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts

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.