Sweet Cherry & Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette

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Sweet Cherry & Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette-a light, flavor-packed salad that's delightful paired with virtually any grilled protein but stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal

A light, flavor-packed salad that’s delightful paired with virtually any grilled protein but stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal. For a vegan alternative, simply omit the feta. And try substituting dried cherries or cranberries when the fresh cherry season has ended. 🍒

 

 

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’ve enjoyed incorporating those jams into various recipes from salad dressings to grilled shrimp. The following 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’re not a maker of homemade jam, no worries; your favorite purchased peach or apricot jam will work just fine.

The easy, prep-ahead salad is a little out of the ordinary but has delighted family and friends. Leftovers provide a welcome lunch later in the week.

For another way to enjoy jam beyond the typical toast and sandwich approach, we adore these Apricot Ginger Shrimp KabobsClassic Peach Jam or your favorite apricot jam work beautifully.

Sweet Cherry & Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette-a light, flavor-packed salad that's delightful paired with virtually any grilled protein but stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal

Lima beans or shelled edamame provide subtle flavor and added heft to this healthy, plant-based meal. For meat eaters, a serving of grilled salmon, shrimp, steak or chicken makes for a heartier meal.

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; sour cherries were not ready for picking yet.

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

Cherries!

Helpful hint: As the season rolls along, if you happen to end up with cherries that are getting a little soft, pit them and freeze for use in smoothies, like this protein-rich Chocolate Cherry Shake.

Sweet Cherry & Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette-a light, flavor-packed salad that's delightful paired with virtually any grilled protein but stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal

Note: I recently adapted this recipe to make a larger quantity of the dressing. That 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. Also, some people simply like more dressing on their salad or like the option of passing extra at the table.  If you have leftover, you may like to try basting grilled chicken or pork with it.

Sweet Cherry & Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette-a light, flavor-packed salad that's delightful paired with virtually any grilled protein but stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal

This vibrant, grain-based salad provides a uniquely satisfying way to enjoy the fleeing cherry season. When cherry season has ended, you can keep this salad in the rotation with a simple substitution.

Virtually any grilled protein will round out the meal, but it stands alone as a complete vegetarian meal-vegan if the feta is omitted or swapped with nutritional yeast. If you’d rather not fire up the grill, this would be an ideal time to try Slow Roasted Salmon or Smoky Skillet Chicken.

Sweet Cherry and Feta Quinoa with Peach Vinaigrette
Yield: 6-8 side servings
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.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • ½ cup peach jam (could substitute apricot)
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar (I have also used apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon (may skip this but it gives the dressing a nice flavor boost)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and quartered (or use ⅓ 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
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped (or 3-4 green onions, chopped)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped (If no herbs are available, I stir in 2 lightly packed cups baby spinach or arugula instead.)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled (heaping if you love feta like I do!)
  • ¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted (chopped Smokehouse almonds are delicious, too)
Instructions
  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 1¾ cups water and the quinoa to a boil in a large pot, cover, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook 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 ½ 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.
Notes

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.

If you prefer a tangier dressing, feel free to add an extra drizzle of vinegar or a touch more Dijon, to taste.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

    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!

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  3. JRnBaysMom

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

    Reply
    1. Ann

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

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
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  8. Mary Lou Keller

    Hi Ann! This looks and sounds delicious! I am going to give it a try, minus the edamame. I have tried it but just can’t develop a taste for it. The dressing sounds amazing! Hope you are doing well.
    We are taking one day at a time.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you Mary Lou! You could try lima beans – or perhaps even garbanzo beans – in place of the edamame, although as mentioned you can certainly omit entirely. Things are good here and I’m thinking of you. ❤️

      Reply
  9. Alexis M

    This looks divine! Thanks for a recipe that includes fresh cherries – usually eat them out of hand 🙂
    There is a stand along Creek Hill Rd that sells fantastic cherries for a few weeks in June -July. I’m stopping there on my way home from work!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks, Alexis! I usually eat cherries out of hand, too, so it’s fun to incorporate them into a meal. It’s a short season, so we must enjoy while we can!

      Reply
  10. Cheryl Post author

    I made the sweet cherry feta quinoa and it was excellent. Newer subscriber. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

    Reply