Monday, March 3, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Baby Carrots, Chick Peas, Arugula and Pumpkin Seed Praline

I'm a self-admitted salad freak. But I don't usually go for the lots-of-greens-swimming-in-dressing kind of salad. Firstly, I hate the process of washing and drying lettuce. The second reason I'm not a huge fan of lettuce salads is that you can't really keep the leftovers. The dressing renders it completely soggy within an hour and if you don't finish it on the spot the leftovers end up in the garbage. So I'm naturally drawn to salads that are heavy on the heartier vegetables and that keep well in the fridge for a good few days. For me, a great salad needs three basic things: color, contrast and texture. I love experimenting with flavor combinations and then throwing in the unexpected for that 'Wow!' factor.

This is not your typical peel, chop and toss kind of salad. It is a bit more time consuming but perfect for the winter months. It's robust and hearty and utilizes ingredients that are probably in your fridge and pantry right now. The best thing about this salad is that besides the fact that it has color, contrast and texture, it's the kind of salad that can be turned into a main course by simply adding some cooked fresh salmon, strips of roasted chicken or a handful of goat cheese. Feel free to mix it up a bit - substitute quinoa for toasted Israeli couscous (petitim) or wheat berries and maybe swap the carrots with roasted squash or sweet potato. Have fun with it!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Baby Carrots, Chick Peas, Arugula, and Pumpkin Seed Praline

Serves a crowd (10-12 side dish portions, 6-8 main course)


1/4 c. good quality olive oil
1/4 c. canola oil
2-3 T rice wine vinegar or other mild vinegar
2 tsp. grated ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Dash cinnamon
1 T. honey
Juice of 1/2 an orange
Juice of a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until mixture is emulsified. Adjust vinegar if necessary. Store in the fridge until needed.

Salad ingredients:

1 c. quinoa
1 bag baby carrots
2 T olive oil
1 T. honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can chick peas, drained
5 baby radishes, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 c. arugula leaves, cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces

Handful of chopped fresh parsley

1/2 c. craisins
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. sugar

Set oven to 400 degrees. Rinse quinoa really well in a sieve. Put into a pot and add 1 c. water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a rolling boil, then immediately turn the flame down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. If quinoa is still not cooked and all the water has been absorbed, add up to 1/4 c. more water and continue cooking until quinoa is cooked and all the water is absorbed. Remove from the fire, uncover, fluff with a fork and then cover with a clean towel. Let sit until cooled.

Place one bag of frozen baby carrots on a cookie sheet lined with either foil or parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil, honey and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-45 minutes until carrots are lightly browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Pumpkin seed praline: Place a piece of parchment paper on your counter. Put 1/4 c. sugar in a dry frying pan and shake so it's an even layer and scatter pumpkin seeds evenly on top. Don't mix, but watch carefully. When sugar begins to melt and the pumpkin seeds begin to make a popping sound, then stir carefully with a wooden spoon. The sugar will begin to caramelize and turn a golden brown. At this point, watch closely since it will only take another minute or two before it's done. If you leave it for too long, the sugar will start to burn and the whole batch will be ruined. Turn off the flame and then carefully pour seeds onto a piece of parchment paper (it's super hot!), spread with the wooden spoon to separate clusters and let cool completely. Store in a sealed container for up to two weeks or store in the freezer long term.

To arrange salad:

In a large bowl add the quinoa, roasted carrots, chick peas, radishes, arugula and craisins. Toss with 1/2 of the dressing immediately before serving. Add more dressing if needed. (Store remaining dressing in the fridge - will keep for about two weeks.) Top with chopped parsley and pumpkin seed praline.

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