I think the term salad can be misleading.  Some people hear salad, and they think of iceberg, diets, rabbits, and other stereotypes.  This salad is none of those (it is especially not a rabbit).  It is hearty, filling, and so delicious that both Hubby and I had seconds!!

Every time we are at Disney World I like to hit the Liberty Tree Tavern to feast on the amazing Colonial Salad.  The last couple of times we went happened to be in the sweltering summer heat, and this salad cooled me off, filled me up, and made me feel ready to walk another 7 miles (the average walking distance for a day at Disney..really).

The salad at the Liberty Tree Tavern is mixed greens with apples, pecans, and smoked cheddar (I get it without chicken).  So now that apples are in season I had to make my own take on this.

I have a thing for Gouda.  We hosted a BBQ this summer, and our friends brought us Gouda, and I absolutely fell in love with it.  I have yet to make or eat something with Gouda that doesn’t make me think that dish is the best thing I ever ate. I found smoked Gouda when scoping out smoked cheeses to use in this dish and I had to get it.  That could be the most that anyone ever used the word Gouda in a paragraph…

I could eat this salad for lunch and/or dinner every day.  It’s just so good.  The sweetness of the apples and cranberries is balanced by the vinegar and smoked cheese in a way that is completely addictive.  And, in my version, you have the whole thing rounded out with the super healthy (gluten free) all star grain quinoa.  Which makes it all the more filling and balanced.

This makes a lot of food.  I feel like I say this in every recipe, but I always make lots of food so I can eat it for lunch and dinner.  You can totally cut the recipe in half if you are not big on leftovers, but the leftovers will stay good in the fridge for about a week, and this is excellent cold, room temp or warm.

Health highlights of Quinoa: Though it is considered a whole grain, quinoa is technically the seed of a plant related to spinach and beets.  Quinoa is very high in protein, and the protein is the highest quality because it contains all the amino acids your body needs to produce muscles and tissues and lots more.  It is high in magnesium, which can help people with migraines and chronic headaches because it helps relax blood vessels.  It is also a gluten free grain.  It needs to be rinsed before cooking, so try to go for one that is pre-rinsed if you can to save the time.



1 ½ cups Quinoa
3 cups baby Spinach
½ cup dried Cranberries
½ cup toasted Pecans
2 Apples (diced)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
½ – ¾ cup shredded smoked Gouda (or smoked cheese of your choice)


¼ cup Sherry Vinegar
5 tablespoons EV Olive Oil (1/4 cup plus a tablespoon)
¼ teaspoon Dijon Mustard



  • Cook the quinoa with 1 ¾ cups water (bring water to boil, add quinoa, lid the pot, turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes)
  • Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl
  • Add the spinach, cranberries, pecans, apples, and dressing (the spinach may wilt a little which is perfect)
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • One the mixture has cooled off slightly, add the gouda
  • Dish up and serve!!


Are any of you leftover lovers like me?

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