Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!

I'm about to lose control and I think I like it! I'm so excited! Sing it with me, all you Pointer-Sister-big-hair-wearing foodies! :) I'm posting my very own creation this week here on Madame Munchies, but I am also pinning my recipe to Pinterest - Red Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad. What I love about this salad is how versatile it is! If you don't care for certain vegetables or are related to picky eaters, you can easily chuck it out for something you love or that appeals to your family's preferences. Even if you adore the vegetables I suggest, the farmer's markets will inspire you to change it up with vegetables at their peak.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is increasing in popularity among foodies and health nuts. Not only is it recognized as a grain that is a high in protein, but I recently found out it's a complete protein too. This ancient grain (the Incas ate it!) is related to spinach and swiss chard. Enough facts, go out and buy some quinoa!

Red Quinoa & Roasted Vegetable Salad (serves 6-8 as a side dish)

1 c. quinoa, uncooked 
2 c. water 
2 zucchini, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c. small tomatoes, halved
1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, chopped
2 c. arugula, washed and dried

Herb and Shallot Vinaigrette

1 shallot, finely chopped 
1 lemon, juiced 
White wine vinegar, splash 
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used thyme and oregano)
Salt and Pepper
Scant ¼ c. of good quality extra virgin olive oil

Making the Quinoa: 
Besides, being a powerhouse grain, quinoa is an easy grain to cook successfully. Mark Bittman’s, How to Cook Everything, includes a user-friendly recipe for cooking quinoa. In a small saucepan, add 1 c. quinoa and 2 c. water. Do yourself a favor, add a good pinch of sea salt to the mix and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot slightly. It should take about 15 minutes for the water to absorb and then the quinoa is ready.

Roasting the Vegetables: 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread your zucchini, onions, eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes onto sheet pans in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss together with your hands. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the vegetables. Roasting time may depend on what vegetables you choose for this salad, but mine took about 30 minutes or so.

Making the Dressing: 
In a small bowl, add the shallots. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the shallots, add the lemon juice and a splash of white wine vinegar. I allow the shallots to swim in the lemon juice for a while to mellow out. Then add the herbs and the olive oil. Whisk together, taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the salad, choose a pretty big bowl, add the quinoa, cooked vegetables and arugula. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss together and serve.

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