Quinoa isn’t just for Passover anymore. Revered by the Incas as sacred, quinoa looks like a grain but is actually a plant related to beets, chard, and spinach. Its tiny seeds cook up into fluffy, nutty goodness in fifteen minutes, and can be used in any number of ways. Quinoa is fantastic for vegetarians and vegans because it is a complete protein (i.e. it has a full complement of amino acids). It also possesses the virtue of being rather seriously tasty.
We concocted this salad on a work-filled evening recently, when the fridge was barren and a grocery run seemed too much to take on. We’d run out of dinner recipes. It requires a bit of time, but almost no effort, and you can double or triple the recipe and have easy lunches for the week. Swap out other roasted veggies for the peppers and onions, if that’s what you like or have on hand: the basic idea is just to toss some happily caramelized vegetables with some quinoa and a bit of seasoning. It’s a rather high payoff for a really simple bit of cooking.
Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
- 3 red, yellow, or orange peppers
- 1 large or 2 small onions
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
- salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C/375°F. Cut out the stems from the peppers, and discard the seeds and inner membranes. Slice into thin strips. Toss the peppers with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and spread out on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Roast until browned in places and very soft, stirring every few minutes. (Total cooking time will be about 45 minutes.)
- While peppers are cooking, set a medium frying pan over low heat; pour another 1 tbsp of the olive oil into the pan. Slice the onions thinly, and add them to the pan. Cover and let the onions soften gently, stirring every once in a while and adding a bit more oil if they stick. Once the onions start to take on a a tinge of colour uncover the pan and let them continue cooking, stirring as needed, until they are richly golden.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Put 1.5 cups of water into a medium saucepan; salt lightly and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa, lower heat to a bare simmer, and let cook until all the water is absorbed – about 12 minutes or so. Taste the quinoa and if it is still crunchy add a couple more tablespoons of water, cooking for a few minutes longer. Remove from heat and transfer quinoa to a large bowl.
- Pour peppers, onions, and any accumulated juices over the quinoa. Pour in the remaining olive oil, grind in some pepper, and add a squeeze of lemon. Toss everything together thoroughly, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4 as a starter or side, or 2 as a main course.