Hi friends! It’s been a while. A little over six months in fact.
I’m a little shocked that I let things slide for so long without popping in here but if I’m being completely honest, these past few months have been pretty tough for me and blogging and social media just couldn’t be at the forefront. But perhaps this will be a post for another time.
For right now, I’d like to draw your attention to this beaaaauuuutiful spur-of-the-moment salad that I made for a potluck with some local Dallas-Fort Worth area bloggers yesterday. Soooo, story-time.. I had fully intended on baking a blueberry lemon yogurt tart but when Saturday (yesterday) came around, it just didn’t sound appealing. It was too darn hot to turn on the oven and I already knew there would be plenty of desserts there. So a salad it was going to be!
And then I realized I barely had anything in my fridge – Sundays are usually my grocery haul days. But I poked around and found some kale, a couple carrots, two zucchinis, and a bell pepper. I
stole utilized my roommate’s onion and some cilantro (thanks, Em!) and voila, we had the beginnings of a salad.
I immediately knew I wanted the salad to have a depth of flavor so I chopped the vegetables up (haphazardly), tossed them with some olive oil, and threw them in the oven until crispy and golden.
But I didn’t just want a salad just comprised of vegetables; as delicious as they are, I wanted something extra to make it a heartier dish. So quinoa was cooked on the stove-top, bubbling away with turmeric and thyme until fluffy and golden. The smell in the kitchen, you guys – the aromatic spices, the caramelized sugars from the roasted vegetables .. it was all so intoxicating and inexplicably divine. And simple, too!
After everything cooled, I tossed things together and added some chopped Brazil nuts, almonds, dates and cilantro to bring some extra flavor and crunch. Everything together tasted really good at this point .. but we’re not done yet. The cornerstone of this salad might just be the dressing because it brought all the flavors together and made them so harmonious and yet you could still detect the subtle underlying flavors of the different components.
So this dressing. Traditionally, zingy Thai dressings are made with a peanut butter base but I used Sunbutter instead and I absolutely loved how easily it incorporated into the salad, both flavor-wise and technically as well. We often worry with alternative ingredients such as these that they may not lend themselves well to a recipe but I honestly could not the difference at the end from a traditional peanut butter-based dressing. Dare I say it was even better? And furthermore, for those of you who are nut-free, this would be a great dish to make (by omitting the Brazil nuts and almonds, of course) since you know you’re not compromising on flavor one bit!
I absolutely love this salad, you guys. And I hope you do too. It truly goes to show that you really don’t need much to make a healthy, nutritious, and delicious meal at home even with limited ingredients on hand. Don’t have quinoa? Use rice, couscous, cauliflower rice or even pasta. Don’t have the veggies I mentioned? Use whatever you have on hand! Don’t like Sunbutter? Use peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, tahini (!) .. the options are endless. Just get creative in the kitchen and start cooking!
GOLDEN QUINOA ROASTED VEGGIE SALAD WITH “PEANUT” GINGER DRESSING
For the roasted vegetables:
- 1/2 onion
- 2-3 zucchini
- 1 bell pepper
- 1/2 head of kale
- 1-2 carrots
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped Brazil nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 2-3 pitted dates
- Olive oil
For the quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1.5 cups wate)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup Sunbutter (creamy)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 395F.
- Chop the ingredients for the salad (except the cilantro, nuts, and dates) into uniform sizes to ensure even baking. Drizzle with olive oil, season simply with salt and pepper, and arrange on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast veggies in the oven for 35 minutes (check periodically – the smaller they are, the faster they will cook) until cooked and golden-brown. Set aside to cool.
- While the veggies are roasting, make the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in water, add it to a saucepan along with the water and the spices. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed the water and is fluffy. You can tell when its done when fine white rings are present around the edges of the quinoa. Take off heat, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool.
- Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together with a fork. Taste and adjust seasonings and sweetness as needed. Use more or less water depending on how creamy or running you would like the dressing to be.
- Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl – including the cilantro, nuts and dates here – and toss thoroughly to incorporate the dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld with one another. Garnish with additional cilantro and slivered almonds and serve chilled, if possible.
Photography by: Erin Parker // The Speckled Palate
What are some of your favorite “throw together” last-minute meals?