I was totally overwhelmed by the abundance of fresh food in Israel. Every time we sat down to the table, our generous hosts covered every available square inch with dishes to try. I, of course, couldn’t let one pass me by, so I always left the table feeling thoroughly stuffed and seriously spoiled.
In those stomach-clutching moments, I day-dreamed about going home to a simple quinoa salad and a glass of wine. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
Honest to goodness, those dishes passed by so quickly that I hardly had a moment to dissect one before the next arrived. I had hoped to come home with a long list of dishes to recreate, but I’m left mostly with vague, game-changing impressions of flavors, colors, smells and sights. It was a whirlwind of a trip and a really wonderful experience.
Today, I thought I’d share a quinoa salad roughly inspired by my week in Israel. I’m throwing in a few photos to go along with it. The salad is based on a recipe that Jessa recited to me by memory. Jessa is the one petting the donkey in the photo below. She’s a smart, stylish, energetic lady who can tell you all about baking and fermentation and eco-friendly home-building materials.
I couldn’t resist adding more herbs and almonds, then some pomegranate and a dash of warming cinnamon, to satisfy my post-Israel trip taste buds. Please feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your preferences—maybe you don’t like olives (leave them out) or you’re craving some creaminess (add crumbled goat cheese or feta). Maybe you’ll want to finish off the dish with another splash of rich olive oil. Go for it!
I should mention that my entire trip to Israel was covered by Kinetis/Vibe Israel, a non-profit group that hosts small groups of media professionals at a time and shows them around the country. My group (consisting of Ben and Jessa, Lee and Emily) was focused on wellness. I found the experience to be totally inspiring and I genuinely want to share it with you guys. Opinions are mine, of course, and I’m not receiving any compensation for my time or promotion.
I took the mountain scene photo on the grounds of the Ein Gedi Spa near the Dead Sea, the fruit at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, the pomegranate in the backyard of former basketball player/cancer survivor Doron Sheffer in Amirim, the donkey at the home of vegan chef Hagit Lidror in Klil, and the vegan feast at Green Village Restaurant in Tel Aviv. I bought the beautiful blue bowl at Kibbutz Harduf, a community that rehabilitates those with special needs through therapy, crafts and organic farming in lower Galilee. Check out Lee’s trip summary post for a better play by play of our Israel experience!
Herbed Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 8 servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
A healthy, light salad or side dish featuring quinoa, mint and parsley, pomegranate, almonds and lemon. This gluten-free dish would be a great addition to your holiday table! Recipe yields 4 medium servings or up to 8 small, side dish servings.
- 1 cup quinoa
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- ⅓ cup fresh pomegranate arils
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or raisins
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives (and/or ⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about two medium lemons, juiced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
- To cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water for a minute or two. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the quinoa from heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot, drain off any excess water and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.
- To toast the almonds: In a small skillet, heat the almonds over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and turning golden on the edges. Don’t let them burn! Transfer toasted almonds to your serving bowl to cool.
- To prepare the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
- Final assembly: In your serving bowl, in addition to the almonds, combine the quinoa, chopped mint and parsley, pomegranate, cranberries and olives or cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Taste and mix in additional salt, pepper and/or olive oil if necessary. Serve right away or refrigerate for later.
Recipe inspired by Jessa’s quarter cup salad recipe (given to me verbally) and my experience in Israel.
Keep it vegan/dairy free: Don’t add cheese.
Make it nut free: Substitute pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for the almonds.
Storage suggestions: This salad will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days.
▸ Nutrition Information
Beautiful salad! It sounds like an amazing experience! I love taste testing things from new cultures!
Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
Your trip pictures SO had me wanting to go to Israel ASAP, how gorgeous! I love a country that embraces fresh food and healthy living. Also, this salad is so pretty and makes me think it deserves a place at the Thanksgiving table : )
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
I feel the same way about Palermo – soooo much produce and I feel super overwhelmed. I appreciate it though, because once I’m back in Montreal it’ll be winter! I love this recipe – so full of colour and goodness :)
Lisa Cohen - Life is in the Details
This looks delicious! I went to Israel in the spring of 1992 as a young high school student at the time with AMHSI (a 2-month high school exchange program), not nearly the food-obsessed human I am now…. and had the BEST falafel at a teeny, tiny falafel stand in the small town where I was staying and am still trying to chase that experience – chopped sour pickles are a MUST for topping in addition, of course, to a lemony tahini sauce… and almost never served this way in the States). I wish I could go back there with a different perspective and my love for fresh, healthy foods and eat my way around the country. Oh bleep… maybe that’s the point at which I became food-obsessed. I think I just had a breakthrough epiphany. LOL!
A wellness-focused tour around the country sounds absolutely wonderful. Glad you are back home safely and that you had a good trip!
I look forward to seeing more Middle Eastern-infused and vibrant recipes in the coming weeks as I’m sure your taste buds are pleasantly inspired! It sounds like this journey was a very good one indeed! :D
You aren’t going to believe this, but… I didn’t get a chance to eat good street falafel while I was in Israel! I tried to find some during my scant free time on Saturday, but all of the falafel places were closed for sabbath. We’ll just have to go back for more good food!
Lee - Fit Foodie Finds
They put pomegranate on EVERYTHING in Israel. Love this recipe…so fresh and simple!
I’m thinking this is a perfect day-after-thanksgiving treat- light, nourishing and lovely! I can’t imagine all the great food you must have been eating in Tel Aviv!
Brian @ A Thought For Food
We need to talk about Israel at some point… I was there on Birthright six years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long!!!!) and came back a changed man because of all the amazing food (the religious/historical stuff… eh :-)).
Anyway, I’m totally loving this salad and I can’t get enough pomegranate. I have a funny story about pomegranates, actually. On our trip, an Israeli woman we’d become friendly with showed us around a neighborhood. She went into someone’s yard and just picked a pomegranate from a tree. We were shocked. Going on someone’s property and just taking something? CRAZINESS! She told us that that’s what they do in Israel. What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours.
Any time, Brian! I had such a great time over there. I heard the same story about picking fruit from neighbors’ trees… but I also heard about some lawsuits between neighbors over their fruit trees! I wish my neighbors grew citrus and pomegranates for the picking, that would be paradise!
Jessica @ TwoGreenPeas
This is such a simple but beautiful salad! Thanks for the recipe :)
Wowowowow! Loved seeing all the pictures from your trip on the blog and on instagram! What an amazing experience! <3 <3
Thanks, pal! Talk soon?
Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine
I love coming home from traveling and recreating dishes– with my own spin, just like you did.
This looks delicious– a perfect refreshing light meal in the midst of all the heavy holiday cooking going on!
Sounds like a great trip! I would love to check out Israel someday. Your salad sounds so yummy- thanks for the recipe!
Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge)
Sounds like an amazing trip! This salad looks gorgeous and full of my favorite flavors. Love pomegranate arils in everything this time of year!
What an amazing trip and the food is inspiring, not to mention the history, culture and scenery. The media can really skew countries and so this was really refreshing!!!
Thank you, Susan! Glad you appreciated the post. I had a really lovely time there.
I think I will make this for lunch this week. It looks fab! I have a wine apple/pomegranate sitting at home and I haven’t been able to figure out what to pair it with yet! Will let you know what I think :)
Hope you love the salad, Maggie!
This was delicious – thank you SO much for sharing!
Hooray! Thank you, Angie. I’m glad you liked it.
Is this to be served warm or chilled. Thank you.
Warm or cold, based on your preference! Room temperature is great.
I’ve always wanted to go to Israel. I’m quite obsessed with what I understand of the rich, vibrant food and culture. You trip sounds beautiful! Pretty full on but wonderful nonetheless :) This dish is a beautiful interpretation of your trip xxx
I can only imagine all the crazy food and flavors you experienced! I can’t wait to see what inspired dishes you share with us. Love the bursts of pom in this quinoa along with all the fresh herb flavor!
This salad looks and tastes fantastic! Its my new favourite dish to make and bring to holiday pot luck gatherings. Thank you so much!
Thank you, Dawn! So glad to hear that!
Use golden raisins in this (not the standard purple) like I did. Delicious. :)
I’ve made this twice now, the first time on Thanksgiving, and it’s so light & fresh with AMAZING flavor! thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe- I may just have this on hand weekly for a quick lunch or as a side dish for dinner! for the record, it’s really yummy eaten straight out of the fridge, while still in the container!
Thanks, Kristen! I’m so glad you’re loving the salad! I’ve definitely enjoyed it straight out of the bowl before. :)
Sharon / Savormania
It makes me so happy to read so many beautiful things about my country Israel! I’m glad you had a great trip! I have this salad planned for lunch this week :) Can’t wait to try it out.
Thanks, Sharon! I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Israel. Hope you enjoy this salad!
Yum! What a tasty and quick salad to prepare. I will be looking forward to leftovers this week. Thank you for sharing!
Fantastic! Thanks, Madeline!
Elizabeth @ bowl of delicious!
YUM! I love the combo of flavors– olives, pomegranate, almonds, CINNAMON?! It looks like a bowl of sweet-salty goodness with awesome texture. Pinned!
Yum! This looks and sounds delicious. I’ve never tried pomegranate before (all the pomegranates for sale here in New Zealand come from America) so I’m looking forward to making it for Christmas lunch. Do you think it would be okay made the night before?
Sarah, I’m sorry I didn’t answer your question in time. I think it would be ok made the night before, but it would probably be best fresh.
I love the ingredients in this recipe and I can’t wait to try it. I will cook it this weekend… yum! Thanks for sharing. TheFoodJourney :)
Delicious salad. I used cranberries and I added coriander (cilantro) with the parsley and mint. As we were having it as a maincourse salad, I also added very tiny cubes of avocado. I really think the key to these salads is to cut the ingredients small so the flavours mix up more intensely. Thanks for the recipe.
Thank you, Jo! So glad you enjoyed it.
Really a delicious salad! Made a half portion but otherwise followed the directions exactly. I did not add the cheese. It was very light, flavorful, and easy to assemble. I had plenty left over for tomorrow, so I’m hopeful it’ll be equally delicious tomorrow.
Forgot to rate it…five stars delicious!!!
Hooray, thanks Teri!
I made this as the main course last night and it was a hit with us! Filling, flavorful and satisfying. And one of those dishes where if there’s leftovers you have a great lunch (but I just ate it for breakfast, couldn’t wait). Really nice fall and winter recipe, it’s going to be a welcome counterbalance against the heavier foods this season. Thanks Kate!
Thank you, Diana! So glad you enjoyed this one.
this was super good! I’ve always been skeptical of adding sweet things to savory dishes, but I’m completely converted now. just one thing–my quinoa came out kind of mushy. maybe I added too much water?
So I’m a newbie at adding fruit to any dish (they are already so delicious fresh!) But after learning that pomegranates are a mainstay ingredient in middle eastern cooking, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Did not disappoint! I will definitely be making this again, especially since it seems like something that’d keep well :)
Our New Year started with this Quinoa recipe and needless to say, it was tasty, felt wholesome, and had no guilt associated with it. The small change I made to it was to sprinkle some feta cheese on top of the salad. It would be great if you can publish the nutritional details of the recipe.
I just made this salad and loved it!!! My produce man swore up and down that pomegranates are out of season and that’s why he didn’t have any in stock… it’s January, so I don’t think so. Instead of arguing, I just decided I would use what I had on hand at home, which was barberries and dried apricots. It was delicious! I also threw in a few sunflower seeds. Thanks for this yummy recipe! I hope to try it in its intended form soon.
Also, I have been vegetarian for about 16 years now. My mom was sure it was a phase, but here I am. I have really enjoyed every recipe of yours that I have tried. Thank you so much for making interesting, delicious vegetarian food. So many vegetarian recipes or vegetarian dishes at restaurants are boring and bland. Thank you for sharing your love of cooking, and your love of plant-based meals with the masses. I, for one, truly appreciate it.
Chandra, thank you so much for your kind note. I really appreciate it. Your version of this recipe sounds awesome. I have pretty high standards for vegetarian food and you’re right—so many restaurants are missing the mark! Boo to them. Hope your week is off to a great start.
I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner last night, and it was such a delicious addition to the table. It looks so festive and fresh also. I’ve loved all the recipes of yours that I have tried. Thank you so much!
I am happy I reposted it! You are very welcome. Thanks so much, Kathy for your comment.
Just made this dish for lunch. I followed the recipe exactly. it’s delicious and satisfying. Thank you Kate.
You are welcome! Thank you, Shirley for your review.
Just made this great quinoa salad. I eat quinoa everyday and wanted to jazz it up. No poms in my little town in Feb., So used some cherries. oMG, sooooo good. Everyone try it. Can’t wait until I find a pom to use. Thanks for this flavorful tecipe!!!
I love it, Cindy! Thanks for sharing your experience.
Will try the recipe this weekend, it looks awesome! If I make it as a side dish, what would you recommend for a main dish? Thanks a lot!
Hi Andrea! This would be great with a pasta or you could make another salad to go with it. A large dish of grilled veggies or roasted veggies could be nice with a dipping sauce!
Hi Kate. I tried this receipe this weekend and it was very nice! I added a little pear to the mix, which was nice and fresh and the only thing that I would do differently is add a little more vinaigrette to the salad. Thanks. I’m definitely making it again. I served it with your Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup.
This is subtle but delicious. I served it for Christmas Eve—the red and green ingredients are so festive! It was a side dish for fish, but I expect the leftovers will be delicious for lunch. I did add goat cheese and would recommend including it.
I’m in Israel and was searching for a salad with quinoa and pomegranate when I came across yours :)
This was a great source of inspiration, but I made a different salad, I guess:
I used 1/2 cup pomegranate, excluded the olives/cheese, added 1/3 cup each of carrot, cucumber, and sweet potato, and didn’t use the full amount of quinoa that I’d cooked.
The touch of cinnamon was amazing with all that and people at the potluck I took it to loved it, so thank you!