Sweet Cherry and Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette

Every summer, I make several varieties of homemade jam that we enjoy  throughout the year on toast and good old PB&J’s.  In recent years, I have enjoyed incorporating those jams into various recipes from salad dressings to grilled shrimp.  This quinoa salad offers a delightful balance of sweet, thanks to the fruit and jam, and tangy, compliments of the vinegar, Dijon, and feta cheese.  When cherries are not in season, I prepare the salad with dried cherries or cranberries.  And if you are not a maker of homemade jam, no worries; your favorite purchased peach or apricot jam will work just fine.  This is an easy, prep-ahead salad that is a little out of the ordinary, delights guests, and is a welcome lunch later in the week.

Apricot Ginger Shrimp Kabobs is another recipe I like to make using either my Classic Peach Jam or apricot jam.  Are there any ways you like to use jam or jelly beyond the typical uses?

Sweet Cherry and Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette
This recipe is a uniquely delicious way to incorporate sweet cherries into a satisfying salad, but there are options so that it may be easily enjoyed year round. Feel free to pick and choose based on personal preference and what you have on hand. For added ease, the vinaigrette may be prepared 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Yields 6-8 side servings
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup peach jam (could substitute apricot)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I have also used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon (may skip this but it gives the dressing a nice flavor boost)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and quartered (or use 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries)
  • 1 cup edamame or lima beans (cooked according to package directions, if frozen, or steamed until al dente if fresh; see note)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped (or 4 green onions, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (If no herbs are available, I stir in 2 lightly packed cups baby spinach or arugula instead.)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (heaping if you love feta like I do!)
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
  1. For the vinaigrette, place the jam, vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, salt, and water in a small jar. Screw on the lid and shake until thoroughly blended and emulsified. Conversely, you may add the ingredients to a small bowl and thoroughly mix.
  2. Rinse the quinoa and drain well. Bring 1 1/4 cups water and the quinoa to a boil in a large pot, cover, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook 10-12 minutes or until all the water in absorbed and the quinoa is just tender but still a little firm to the bite. Once cooked, remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, and then drizzle about 1/2 of the vinaigrette over the quinoa and toss to coat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Add the cherries, edamame or limas, celery, onion, herbs or greens, and feta to the quinoa. Toss to combine.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve, ideally for a few hours to allow the vinaigrette to soak into the quinoa a bit and the flavors to combine. Before serving, sprinkle with the toasted almonds and drizzle with additional vinaigrette to moisten, tossing to combine.
  • I started making this salad without the edamame or lima beans but find it adds a bit more “oomph” to the dish. Feel free to use whichever you prefer–we like them both equally–or omit them altogether.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
**  I recently adapted this recipe to make a larger quantity of the dressing.  This way, if you prepare the salad in advance and refrigerate overnight, you will have additional vinaigrette to moisten the salad, as quinoa will continue to absorb the dressing over time.  And some people simply like more dressing on their salad or like the option of passing extra at the table.  If you have leftover, try basting grilled chicken or pork with it.

Our recent cherry picking outing inspired the latest batch of this well liked salad. The trees were bursting with cherries, and it didn’t take long to fill our bags! Pictured here are a lighter red Queen Anne variety–and some very nice cherry pickers: ) We also picked deeper red Black Bing cherries. Both are sweet varieties; the sour cherries were not ready for picking yet.

We picked A LOT of cherries…enough to share with family and friends, do a lot of baking, and eat plain to our hearts’ content!

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    1. Ann

      We are lucky, indeed, Ann! Thank you for the comment and hope you have a chance to make…with fresh or dried cherries!

  1. Tina

    I made this Saturday night and had it for lunch on Sunday! DELICIOUS!!! I canned peach jam last year and had a little left to make the vinaigrette. Fresh cherries from the market, mint from my garden, frozen edamame, made the textures complete. I highly recommend making this the night before and letting all the juices marinade.

  2. Shannon

    Oooohhhh…I made your cherry quinoa salad and your honey lime chicken for dinner tonight! They were both incredible!

    I think I’m actually going to cut up the chicken and add it to the salad for lunch tomorrow – yum!

    Next…carrot cake muffins!

  3. JRnBaysMom

    Awesome, tasty, celery crunchy cherry quinoa salad! Loved making it this sunny afternoon and super enjoyed eating it! Well done!

    1. Ann

      Your thoughtful comment is much appreciated! I am thrilled you enjoyed this salad and the sunny weather!

  4. Jill

    This was a delicious salad, even though I made a few substitutions! I used bulger instead of the quinoa, sugar-free orange marmalade instead of the peach jam, and goat cheese instead of feta. Yum!

  5. Kathy

    Made this salad tonight and it was loved by the whole family. Added a little lime zest and doubled the dressing because we like to serve with more on the side. Great recipe!

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