I had the pleasure of sharing this recipe in the January issue of our sweet local magazine, Hillsborough Living. It is not only a perfect recipe for anyone trying to “reset” after the holidays, but one of my favorite salads to enjoy year round. It’s refreshing, flavorful and satisfying as a main entree all on its own. Like many of you, I’d give anything to be able to gather my friends around the table, serve this salad on a big platter, and chat the afternoon away. It’s the perfect “let’s do lunch” salad and I’m holding out hope that can happen sooner rather than later. Until then, I’m continuing to make this salad regularly to nourish my body and soul! Something we can all certainly use right now.
This salad enjoys a nice protein kick from the quinoa. I like to toast it before cooking – it brings out the nuttiness and deepens the flavor. I also like to spread the quinoa, (and most grains) on a parchment lined baking sheet to allow the steam to escape while cooling. Leaving it to cool in the pot often causes the grains to clump, making it not as easy to incorporate into the salad.
For many, fennel may not be on the list of top veggie choices, but I sure have grown fond of it. My favorite way to enjoy this licorice flavored bulb is when it is roasted – it brings out the sweetness and has the most mellow, delicious flavor. Tri-color carrots are also fun in this salad, but certainly not necessary. I do subscribe to the thought that the more colors I can get in a meal, the better – and they are easily available at the farmer’s market or Trader Joe’s.
Arugula is my favorite lettuce for this salad, but mixed baby greens, spring greens or baby kale are all delicious as well. Feta or goat cheese are great choices for a tangy bite, but shaved parmesan is also a nice option. And right now, with meyer lemons in season, it’s my citrus of choice for vinaigrettes. I hope you enjoy this very versatile and healthy salad as much as I do!
Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Roasted Carrots and Fennel
This is one of my favorite salads to make all the components for ahead of time. It takes just minutes to assemble and enjoy for lunch or dinner all week long. It's inspired by one of our favorite local restaurants, 31st Union, and I order a similar salad every time I dine there. It's a nutritious and satisfying salad on its own, but it's delicious with roasted salmon on top for a boost of added protein.
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 cup water or broth
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and sliced into ¼" slices
- 5 medium carrots, peeled, cut half, then into ¼" sticks
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 5 ounces arugula
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400° Place carrots and fennel on a rimmed baking sheet and toss evenly with olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer. Roast, turning occasionally, until golden and tender, about 25 minutes.
Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear, 1 to 2 minutes. Add rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Quinoa will dry out and then after a few minutes will smell nutty and turn slightly golden. Add water or broth and a pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take off heat and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan to cool.
To make the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
To assemble, combine cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and arugula in a large bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Add feta cheese and toasted pine nuts and gently combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at room temperature.