Celebrating National Day with Beautiful Ingredients

It’s been over a decade since my husband and I took a leap of faith and relocated to the UAE. With a “wait and see” approach to living in the Gulf, we settled into our life in Dubai with ease – our 3 year expat plan turned into an indefinite stay. Fast forward eleven years and three kids later, we’re proud to call Dubai our home. 

My family and I are fortunate to live in a country that embraces cultures from around the world. The influence of over 200 different nationalities can be seen everywhere from classrooms to cuisines. In many ways, this is what makes living here unique. Although the UAE is a country that embraces diversity, it is also a country steeped in tradition and rich in local heritage.

Since we have as many varieties of dates as we have nationalities, I knew that I had to include this luscious fruit when I was thinking about what recipe to share to commemorate National Day.

I’ve always loved dates and like to think of them as Mother Nature’s candy. Eaten on their own, dates can rival even the most luxurious piece of chocolate. Add them to a salty dish you’ll have a party in your mouth, sending your taste buds into overdrive!

This Quinoa salad strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. Pecans provide crunch and texture, while ruby red pomegranate seeds add a pop of tangy sourness. Don’t be put off by the hefty list of ingredients – everything comes together beautifully in this fabulous dish.

Happy UAE National Day! Forty-four never looked so good.


Quinoa Salad with Dates, Pomegranate, Fennel & Pecans

Serves 4-6


  • 1 cup of dates, pits removed and sliced
  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head of fennel, thickly sliced, stalks removed
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from one medium pomegranate)
  • 3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt & fresh black pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit)

Toss your fennel slices with a splash of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast fennel in the oven for 15 minutes, flip over and roast for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until soft and slightly browned. Tear fennel into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Rinse your quinoa under cold water and drain well. Add quinoa and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 13-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Allow quinoa to cool.

Place the quinoa into a large bowl.  Add pomegranate seeds, dates, pecans, chickpeas, onion, parsley, and dill. Toss all the ingredients well.  Add the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and toss again until all the ingredients are beautifully incorporated throughout your quinoa. Garnish with the roasted fennel. Taste, check for seasoning and enjoy!

Copyright © 2015 Lidija’s Kitchen, including personal images taken by the author.





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