Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries and Almonds

We will be leaving our pacific paradise the end of next week and return to our desert southwest home, family and friends. Preparation has started around the yard and deck, painting, cutting back flowers and herbs and pulling out the never-ending weeds.The sun has been coming out everyday about 10:30am, and after that the yard seems to come alive. I am sharing a picture of one of the flowers that have graced us with it's presence this year; the straw flower, aka an "everlasting daisy". The flower feels almost  papery or straw like, and makes a crunching noise when you touch it. I also wanted to share a great recipe for a salad that we had last night, the Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries and almonds, this time I used the red quinoa.

The sweetness of the dried cherries mix in this recipe with the tartness of the lemon yogurt dressing to make the flavors pop in your mouth. At first I thought the dressing was too different for the rest of the ingredients, but after letting the flavors marry together for about a half a hour this was pure heaven. Found this recipe in an old Vegetarian Times Magazine, dated July 1, 2006. Kept everything the same except did not use the small minced red onion as the garlic packed enough punch for what I wanted.


1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 15oz can of rinsed garbanzo beans
1 cup dried cherries (diced)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic (about 2 teaspoons)

Cook quinoa according to directions on box, cool. Cut spinach in thin ribbons. Toss together quinoa, almonds, spinach, cherries, cucumbers and chick-peas in a large serving bowl. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt and garlic in small bowl. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Serve.


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