Cumin-Pistachio Quinoa Salad

Me and quinoa got off on the wrong foot. A couple years ago a friend of mine decided he wanted to put quinoa in his pre-workout smoothies…So naturally he made about 5000 tons of it, only to decide that it tasted pretty bad in his smoothies (surprise, surprise.)

With no idea what to do with all this quinoa, he brought over tupperware containers FILLED with it to our house. Of course, now I love quinoa and eat it all the time…But ohhhhh man….When your fridge is stocked with gallons and gallons of super bland (and slightly bitter) cooked quinoa I can assure you, you and quinoa would have gotten off on the wrong foot too.

What I didnt know at the time was that it is one of the most versatile seeds out there! It can be used in salads, sweets, breakfast cereals, pizza crusts, quiches, even smoothies when done right! The trick to good quinoa lies mostly in how you cook it.

First of all, the bitterness that you may taste in quinoa is actually due to a chemical called saponin the plant produces to repel predators from eating it. Cool, right?

LIFE HACK: Always rinse your quinoa prior to cooking it until the water runs clear and not frothy.  This helps remove the compound that creates that bitterness from the lil seeds. The bitterness varies depending on the brand you buy (boxed vs. in bulk) but rinsing takes the guess work out of it.

This salad is always a crowd pleaser. Theres something about the cumin and lime that really brings out the deep and delicious nutty flavour in quinoa. This was the salad that really helped me fall in love with quinoa and I’ve made it about a million times since. Lets check out the players shall we?


nutty pistachios, tart and sweet cranberries, fragrant cumin and zesty lime!




  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest from 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper


  • Rinse the quinoa well until water runs clear and not frothy. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. I usually find the ratio of 2:1 (water:quinoa) works best.
  • Once quinoa is cooked, transfer to a baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Set aside and allow quinoa to dry here.
  • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lime, cumin and season with sea salt and black pepper. Add the quinoa to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing.
  • Sprinkle in the dried cranberries and chopped pistachios just before serving and toss to combine. Enjoy!
  • This salad is awesome to make ahead for weekday lunches or dinners, to transport to dinner parties and is awesome topped with sliced avocado. But then again, what isn’t?

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