We all know that salads can get boring. The iceberg. The shredded cheese. Maybe a slice or two of cucumber. And, don't forget that creamy, bottled dressing. I try to think outside of the box, so-to-speak. I like to use fruits in my salad. I almost always include nuts and seeds in my salads. And, I really prefer to prepare my own dressing.
Also, it's okay to not always have the mindset that the bulk or centerpiece of a salad has to be lettuce or other leafy greens. I love using grains and pastas as the base for a salad. Here, I've used a quinoa and bulgur mix. Using just quinoa works great, too, for this recipe. Couscous is typical in Moroccan cuisine, so that would probably sub in well, also.
The vinaigrette is ultra simple to prepare, yet very complex in flavors. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the warmth of ground cinnamon, ground cumin and ground ginger in this dressing. And, you'll certainly savor the brightness of the orange and lemon. The fresh mint in the salad is really important, so try not to skip it. And, the reconstituted dried cherries and raisins lend a sweetness that truly makes this salad shine.
What is wonderful about this salad, too, is that it is actually marvelously better after it chills out in the fridge overnight. So, it's a great make-ahead. It's perfect to have on hand for your upcoming work week or to serve at a summer gathering.
FOR THE DRESSING -
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
FOR THE SALAD -
1 cup raisins (any color)
1/4 cup dried cherries
4 cups prepared quinoa (I used a bulgur and quinoa mix)
1 carrot, cut into small dice or shredded
4 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (lightly toasted is best)
1/2 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake well in a lidded Mason jar. Set aside.
Soak raisins and dried cherries in about a cup of super hot water in a small bowl for ten minutes. Drain.
Combine the salad ingredients (including the soaked and drained dried fruit) in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the dressing and stir to combine.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until time of service.