The chilly winter temperatures are making me crave some comfort foods. Yes, I am certainly not immune to cravings (surprise, surprise!) However, I quite enjoy the challenge of finding innovative ways to satisfy my cravings, which give me the best of both worlds - comfort and nutrition. I think this festive quinoa salad is one of my top "go to" nutritious winter comfort foods that is enjoyed by both myself and my entire family.
This time of year when locally grown produce is hiding under a blanket of snow, I like to experiment with different "mix-ins" for my salads. Instead of the traditional summer vegetables, I look for something unexpected to make the dish a bit more festive.
Trumpet call ... bring forth the mandarins, dried cranberries, coloured peppers, avocados and almonds! Together, these little fellas form a quintet of beautifully coloured winter mix-ins that create a comfort salad that will have you asking to eat it for dessert!
If I am totally honest with you though, what REALLY inspired me to make this salad today was the fact that I saw THESE at the grocery store...
Yes, kudos to the Loblaws grocery store chain for packaging frozen avocado! I knew that frozen avocado would work extremely well in smoothies, guacamole or in anything else where it is mashed or mixed-in. But what I wasn't so sure about was how it would behave in a fresh salad, which is how avocados get consumed 50-75% of the time in my house.
So, why not test it out with the festive quinoa salad?!
STEP 1: Assemble all ingredients. NOTE TO BUSY FAMILIES! You only have to chop two ingredients to make this salad, if you use the frozen avocado, which is already chopped!
STEP 2: Cook the quinoa, whisk the salad dressing together and then mix everything together.
STEP 3: Put the final product in a pretty bowl (because things ALWAYS taste better in pretty bowls) and cozy up to sounds of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
So how did the frozen avocado work out in the salad?
I will give it one and a half thumbs up :)
The only negative comment I have about the frozen avocado is that the pieces were much larger than I would typically cut mine, but beggars can't be choosers!
Festive Cranberry and Avocado Quinoa Salad
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp juice from the can of mandarin oranges
- 2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Dash of salt and pepper, each
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 can mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced (yellow, orange or red)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3 green onions (or scallions), chopped
- 1 avocado, diced (or about 1 cup frozen avocado cubes)
- 1/3 cup nuts - i.e. slivered almonds, chopped pecans etc.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Add dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Set aside.
- Combine the quinoa and remainder of the ingredients.
- Add the dressing and gently stir to cover.
Have you had any experience working with frozen avocados? Do you have any other tips or tricks? If so, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.
Have a good one!