Cherry Pistachio Quinoa Salad

I find myself simultaneously wishing for fall to hurry up and get here while also savoring what I know are the last few weeks of some of my summer favorites–peaches, blackberries, watermelon, and cherries.  I’m pretty sure half my diet is fresh fruit all summer every summer.  I cannot get enough.  How could you when it’s just so perfect?

This cherry pistachio quinoa salad is the newest in my rotation of grain salads that make outstanding lunches.  As a teacher, going out for lunch isn’t really an option.  I’m not a fan of sandwiches everyday (or even most days).  I like to get creative.  Just because I’m eating lunch at work doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy, flavorful, beautiful, and packed with nutritious vegetarian ingredients to fuel me for afternoons with the kids.

a pink plate with a salad made of quinoa, ripe red cherries, arugula, pistachios, and goat cheese with a rosé vinaigrette

Juicy, ripe summer cherries are the absolute star here.  (Peaches are also quite tasty.)  Pistachios make the perfect compliment in texture and color.  Quinoa makes a stellar base packed with protein and fiber, and the goat cheese adds creaminess.  Then there’s the dressing.  Do not skimp on the dressing.  I’ve enjoyed the dressing made with this rosé vinegar, though you could use champagne or white wine vinegar if you’d rather.  I make a healthy portion of it so I can add an extra splash each day for lunch to keep the salad from being dry.

I’ve already got this summer quinoa salad, quinoa primavera, and fall favorite quinoa and apple salad in the line up.  I’m gladly making space for this cherry pistachio quinoa salad too.  I think you should, as well, before our favorite summer fruits have said goodbye and made way for the stars of fall.

a pink plate with a salad of ripe red cherries, quinoa, pistachios, goat cheese, and arugula with a rosé vinaigrette

Juicy, ripe summer cherries and crunchy pistachios are the absolute stars of this easy to make and easier to enjoy vegetarian cherry pistachio quinoa salad.


Cherry Pistachio Quinoa Salad

adapted from The Simple Veganista



1 c. dried quinoa

1 lb. cherries (about 2 c.), pitted and sliced in half

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 c. pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

2 large handful baby arugula, long stems removed

1/4 c. fresh mint, chopped

1/3 c. rosé, champagne, or white wine vinegar 

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

salt and pepper, to taste



  1.  Rinse the quinoa.  Add to a saucepan with two cups of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 15-20 minutes, depending on package directions.  Uncover, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare all other ingredients cherries through mint.  Make the vinaigrette by adding the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, shallot, salt, and pepper to a jar.  Seal tightly and shake to combine.
  3. When the quinoa is cooled, spoon it into a large mixing bowl and add cherries, goat cheese, pistachios, arugula, and mint.  Pour half the dressing over the top and gently stir to combine.  Take care not to smash the cherries or the mixture will take on a pink color.  Taste and adjust the amount of dressing, salt, and/or pepper as desired.  Serve room temperature or chilled.

yield: 4 main course servings or eight side servings

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