California Quinoa with Avocado, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

October 29, 2015

The trick to a good quinoa salad is to start the “dressing” process while the quinoa is hot and to then serve it while it is still warm. By adding olive oil and salt when the quinoa has just finished cooking, after it’s had a chance to breathe uncovered for bit, you are preventing that typical grainy, dry quinoa salad where each quinoa “piece”  seems to be separate from one another. We are not looking for mush, but we are looking for a forkful that convinces your mouth that all the ingredients were born to be eaten together.


  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 scant teaspoons kosher salt
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons Coconut Secret’s Raw Coconut Aminos
  • 1-2 teaspoons wheat free tamari or soy sauce
  • a scant ½ teaspoon Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 3 handfuls of freshly chopped herbs (try one or all three of the following: mint, cilantro, basil)
  • 2 large handfuls raw pine nuts, pignoli, or more to taste
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, heirloom when in season, quartered


  1. Cook the quinoa in your rice cooker, using the quinoa and water only, OR cook according to package instructions.
  2. In the meantime, toast the pine nuts by placing them on a hot pan over medium heat. BE  VERY CAREFUL: I tend to burn them regularly because I lose focus. Shake the pan every so often so they don’t burn and can toast on both sides. They will take about 3 minutes to become golden brown if your pan is hot.
  3. Once the quinoa is done, let rest for 3-5 minutes in your rice cooker or pot, uncovered.
  4. Now transfer to a serving bowl or large glass mixing bowl, giving the quinoa a little more space to breathe. Then add the olive oil, the salt and stir. Next add coconut aminos, tamari and braggs and stir, staying on the reserved side of the quantities listed, knowing you can add more later to taste. Juice lemon right into quinoa, and taste. Want more citrus, add more lemon. Want more umami, add more tamari, Braggs, or Coconut Aminos. Want just a tad more flavor, add some salt.
  5. Add the pine nuts, herbs. Mix and taste.
  6. Cut avocados in half, around the pit and open. Remove pit. Score each half vertically and horizontally into squares the size of your thumbnail. Scoop out pieces into quinoa.
  7. Add tomatoes and mix. Adjust seasoning as you like. Drizzle with olive oil and serve while still warm.


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