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Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Cranberries

Recipe from The New American Olive Oil: Profiles of Artisan Producers and 75 Recipes by Fran Gage The colors in this salad will add a festive note to a holiday meal—and it can be prepared in advance so the cooks can devote last-minute preparations to the main course. Quinoa, native to the Andes Mountains, is related to the weed lambs quarters and has been part of the diet of the people who live on the mountain plateaus of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile for five thousand years. It is a highly nutritious food with protein that is superior to other more common cereal grains. Best of all, it has a nutty, earthy taste. A vinaigrette made with a medium extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar complements the nutty quinoa and pistachios. Makes 4 servings For the Salad: 1/3 cup (11/2 ounces by weight) pistachio nuts 1 cup (61/4 ounces by weight) quinoa 11/2 cups (12 ounces) water 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 2 stalks celery, sliced 3 scallions, green tops removed, sliced 1/4 cup (11/4 ounces by weight) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped Sherry Vinaigrette: 1 Tbsp (1/2 oz) sherry vinegar 1/4 tsp sea salt freshly ground pepper 4 Tbsp medium extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp water 1. To toast the pistachio nuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the pistachio nuts in a single layer in a small pan and roast until you can just detect their aroma and they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Let them cool to room temperature, then chop them coarsely. (This can be done ahead.) 2. Toast the quinoa in a medium skillet over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until it lightly browns, starts to crackle, and smells a bit toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a pot, add the water and the salt, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the quinoa is soft but still has a little bite, about 15 minutes. The water should be gone. 3. Transfer the grain to a bowl and let it cool. Add the pistachio nuts, celery, scallions, and cranberries and toss everything together. 4. For the Sherry Vinaigrette, add vinegar, salt and a few grindings of pepper into a small deep bowl. Slowly pour 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil into the bowl, beating constantly with the fork. Beat in the water, then the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Taste for seasoning. 5. Dress the salad with the Sherry Vinaigrette. 6. If not serving immediately, refrigerate the salad, but bring it to room temperature before serving.

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