Quinoa Salad + Apples + Gouda

This salad, from the blog Keep It Skinny, was a hit at our Cooking with Apples Party. Part of our themed cooking event, each ingredient really elevated each other, and it was definitely a healthy dish. The gouda made the dish shine, and the quinoa was quite delicious. 


When I got to cooking it, I changed a few things. I adding 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice instead of sautéing the red onions in balsamic vinegar. At first, I was sure it was an integral part of the taste profile for this dish, but I didn't want to dirty another pan, so I added the lemon juice instead. My move didn't deter the yumminess of the dish, so I was definitely glad. This result yields for 8-10 servings. 


  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa, preferably red
  • Sea salt
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz arugula, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 4 oz aged Gouda, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 large, crisp apple, such as Fuji or Pink Lady, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely diced fennel
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a bowl, rinse the quinoa with water, rubbing it between your fingers for about 10 seconds. Drain and transfer it to a 3-quart pot. Add 2-1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp. sea salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender but still delicately crunchy, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the quinoa and return it to the pot. Cover and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes; then fluff it with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. While the quinoa cooks, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and brown around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, arugula, cheese, celery, apple, walnuts, fennel, and cranberries.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil with the sherry vinegar, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and gently mix it in. Let rest a moment; then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if the salad seems dry.