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If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary for a holiday meal this year, I think I may have it covered. This warm salad is not only a delicious side dish, but if you are feeding people with dietary restrictions or preferences, it will go a long way toward satisfying those folks. Vegetarians? Vegans? Gluten Free? Low Glycemic? Yes, yes, yes and yes – we have it all covered. This is hearty enough to be a satisfying main dish actually and pretty much has that whole balanced diet thing covered. But, none of that matters at all if it is not completely delicious. Fortunately, we have that covered too – this stuff is amazingly yummy!
I am a little late to the quinoa party. All the cool kids have been cooking with it for a long time, and I have been meaning to grab some, if only I could remember to look. But I never seemed to think of it when I was at a store that had a hope of having any – I have to go to one of the larger towns around us to find ingredients that are out of the mainstream, and on my visits there, it slipped my mind. When I did track some down, the first thing I did was to look online for cooking directions, and I immediately made a small batch so I could get an idea of how it tastes. I enjoyed it even more that I could have hoped. At the risk of abusing a much-overused word, it’s…earthy. It’s…vegetable-ley. Rich, with a very pleasant little bitty crunch in the middle of each tiny grain.But, would Larry like it? He is a pretty adventurous eater, all things considered, but he does look a bit askance at really unfamiliar things. I gave him some of the plain stuff first and he found it interesting, which means – “what can you do with it?” It was his garden that gave me the inspiration for the rest though. As I mentioned in the last post, we have a lot of winter squash still, but a few other things are running low – this is the end of both the Brussels Sprouts and the red onions.
We have been gardening for a long time, but there is quite a thrill involved in looking at a lovely collection like this and reminding ourselves that we grew it all. Well – not the lemon of course. We are still in Upstate New York after all.
This is not a difficult dish to pull off – you cook the quinoa, you roast the veggies in a hot oven, you make a zingy lemon vinaigrette, and then you combine them all – easy! Lets go!
Warm Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 & 1/4 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- about 1 pound of butternut squash cut into 1 & 1/2 inch cubes
- 14 ounces of fresh Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half, from top to bottom
- 1 large or up to 4 small red onions, peeled and cut into chunks about the same size as the squash.
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, sprinkled over the veggies
- olive oil
- kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- pinch of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7-8 grinds black pepper
- 1/3 cup of good quality olive oil
Cook the Quinoa
- Rinse the quinoa well, and drain in a fine mesh strainer.
- Using a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa with the water and salt.
- Bring to a simmer and cook, with the lid left open a crack, for about 15 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed - it may take a little longer, so just give it a few more minutes if you need to.
- When the quinoa is done, leave the lid on and set aside.
Roast the Veggies
- While the quinoa is cooking, place all of the vegetables on a large baking sheet, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Stir around to get it all evenly coated, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Break the thyme stems into smaller pieces, and scatter among the vegetables.
- Roast in a 400º oven for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple times, until everything is cooked nicely, and can be pierced with the tip of a pairing knife fairly easily.
Make the Vinaigrette
- In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Whisk in the oil, in a thin stream to combine and emulsify the vinaigrette
Assemble the Dish
- When the veggies are tender and cooked through, take a nice serving bowl and layer the cooked quinoa in the bottom. Put about half of the veggies on top, making sure to remove the stems from the thyme, and gently combine the veg and and quinoa. Kind of mound it in the center a bit, and then scatter the remaining vegetables over the top. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
- Serve warm, and store leftovers in the fridge.
I put the additional vinaigrette on the table to be added to taste. This would also be good with a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette I think – you can experiment to see what you like the best. I am also thinking that some crumbles of feta cheese would not go amiss in there either – I’ll be trying that next time. For now though, I think we can get by on this version.
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