It's Tuesday night, Girls' Night and I'm hosting at the cottage. I need something easy to make and also vegan and gluten-free. If it was summer, it'd be no problem to meet my guests' dietary restrictions...I could throw together a simple salad, but being as it's late fall I need to make something hearty, heavy and substantial...or do I? Why not make an autumn salad? Maybe something with pears and candied pecans? Sprinkled with a few plump golden raisins? We can save our calories for dessert. ;)

Autumn Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
(adapted from a recipe by the Gluten-free Goddess)

Ingredients for Salad

1 cup organic quinoa

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves- washed, drained

1 large ripe Bosc pear- washed, stemmed, cored & cut into pieces

1/2 cup chilled chickpeas, rinsed & drained

2 T chopped fresh parsley

sea salt & pepper, to taste

1 handful golden raisins

1 handful candied pecans

Ingredients for Maple Vinaigrette

4 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T white balsamic vinegar

2 T pure maple syrup


- Place the quinoa in a saucepan. Add 2 cups fresh water or vegetable broth. Cover and cook on a low simmer until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender- roughly 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

- Move quinoa into a salad bowl.

- Whisk together the vinaigrette, pour it over the quinoa salad and toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

- Add the baby spinach, pear, chickpeas, chopped parsley, raisins and candied pecans to the quinoa and fluff/mix.

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