This Quinoa Salad with Peach, Herbs and Pecans makes a great side dish with grilled meat or fish and a satisfying vegan main dish. Serve it with lamb, chicken, kofta kebab or with fried Halloumi.
The peaches are very good this year here in Georgia, juicy and delicious, so I am enjoying them a lot. This salad, or vegan main dish is a great combination of strong flavored herbs, nutty pecans, sweet peaches and a crunchy fluffy flavor of the quinoa.
I have often mentioned how important texture is in a dish. Texture is part of your taste experience and quinoa is a perfect example of a grain that adds texture to a dish. OK quinoa is not really a grain, but it is eaten as a grain. Quinoa is fluffy, creamy and crunchy and somewhat nutty. If you toast the quinoa before you cook it, the nutty aroma and flavor comes out a little better.
This salad reminds me of my trips to the Middle East, years and years ago. The Tabbouleh made a frequent appearance, especially when we had large gatherings and dinner was served as a buffet. I know that Tabbouleh is made bulgur (not quinoa) and with mostly parsley and mint and not with cilantro, and peaches and pecans are not added. Nevertheless, the abundance of the herbs brought me back to many trips to Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Emirates etc.
So let’s just say, this recipe is a play on a more traditional Tabbouleh.
Ingredients of Quinoa Salad with Peach, Herbs and Pecans:
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
Another clarification that this is not a Tabbouleh; it has more quinoa than herbs and a Tabbouleh is more the other way around. But because the cilantro is such a sharp herb, the herb mix (parsley, mint and cilantro) takes center stage as far as flavor is concerned.
How to prepare this salad
- Roast the quinoa – it enhances the flavor. Just a few drops of oil in a pan and then cook it for about 5 minutes on medium high heat. Constantly swirl the pan to avoid burning the quinoa.
- If you prefer you can rinse the quinoa first. Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that may make the cooked quinoa taste bitter or soapy. Rinsing it will get rid of this coating. I have never had that experience, and often packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed, but it you buy quinoa in bulk you may want to rinse it.
- After toasting, add water and salt. Water – quinoa ratio = 2:1. You can add flavor by cooking it in broth, vegetable or chicken.
- While the quinoa is cooking, chop the herbs and the nuts. Cut the peach in slices and then in half or thirds. Last but not least, cook the onion in a little bit of olive oil
- Once the quinoa is cooked, allow it to cool a little bit and then mix all the ingredients. Add lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
A few variations you can make on this recipe. Logically, use bulgur instead of quinoa or farro, brown rice or wheat berries. Instead of peaches, you can use apricots (fresh or dried) and instead of pecans, try walnuts or pistachios.
Quinoa Salad with Peach, Herbs and Pecans
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water or stock
- 1 teaspoon olive oil + a few drops
- 1/4 onion
- 1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
- 1 peach
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 tablespoons mint chopped
- 1/4 cup pecans chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- salt and pepper
- Start with toasting the quinoa, it enhances the flavor. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil in a pan, add the quinoa and cook for about 4-6 minutes on medium high heat. Keep swirling the pan to make sure the quinoa does not burn. The quinoa will become slightly darker/warmer in color and a nutty aroma will arise from you pan.
- Add the water and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and let stand for 5 more minutes, covered. Uncover and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork. Allow to cool just a little bit.
- While the quinoa is cooking do the following:
- 1. Chop the onion, mince the garlic and cook it in a teaspoon of olive oil until translucent and fragrant.
- 2. Wash the peach and cut in into slices and the slices into smaller pieces (seize of your liking).
- 3. Chop the herbs fine and the pecans coarse.
- Mix quinoa with onion, herbs,peaches, pecans and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.