Quinoa is a quick-cooking whole grain with a slightly nutty flavor--a perfect partner for pears and walnuts in this fresh-tasting salad recipe. The flavor is best when the salad is at room temperature or cold. Refrigerate the salad for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Although quinoa--a grain that was a staple in the ancient Incas' diet--was once only available in natural-foods stores, it's now readily available at most large supermarkets and even warehouse stores. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa's natural, bitter protective covering. Most quinoa is sold already rinsed. Check the label to see if you need to rinse before using.
To toast chopped, small or sliced nuts, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.