I’ve fallen a little in love with quinoa salads lately. In particular, Cookie & Kate’s favourite quinoa salad, which is such an easy dish the make, even at the last minute. On Christmas Day, our guests were milling about and chatting, it was after noon and time to eat, and I threw it together in a matter of minutes. Just as well, as it was the perfect complement to the cold meats and salads that everyone else had brought. It’s also brilliant as a quick, healthy lunch. What’s the hash tag that I’ve seen around the place? Not a boring desk lunch?
But enough about that. Let’s talk about this Roasted Vegetable & Quinoa Salad with pesto vinaigrette. Inspired by the lunch menu at the café where we meet my Dad fortnightly for lunch, the heroes of this healthy dish are summer vegetables; eggplant, zucchini, capsicum and tomatoes. Pumpkin gets a lead role too, as they keep so well and are available all year round. Yes, it showcases summer produce, but please, whatever you do, don’t make this in a heat wave. I have been known to bake in a heat wave, but I wouldn’t advise it.
This summer hasn’t disappointed. It’s been hot. Very hot. In recent years we have had more summer rain than heat waves and on some level, it was disappointing. It just didn’t seem quite like a real summer without the soaring temperatures and the need to stay inside for fear of being burned to a crisp. But do make this salad. Perhaps when the temperature is slightly less than last week’s average (40C/104F). Turn the oven on then and roast all your favourite summer vegetables and toss with quinoa and pesto. You won’t be sorry.
Roasted Vegetable & Quinoa Salad with pesto vinaigrette
The healthiest and heartiest of salads, showcasing the best of summer’s produce.
Serves 6 as a side
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, uncooked
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 red capsicum, cut into wide strips
200g pumpkin, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes (quarter any larger ones)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
For garnish: crumbled feta, optional
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line two baking dishes with non-stick baking paper, divide vegetables between the dishes and toss in oil to coat. Roast in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, swapping racks halfway through. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine uncooked quinoa with 1 ¾ cups water in a small, heavy-based saucepan. Bring water to boil, then reduce to simmer and cover with well-fitting lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
To toast the pine nuts, cook them in a small fry pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they’re turning lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Combine pesto, garlic and vinegar (or juice) in a large serving bowl, and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking continuously to emulsify. Add the tomatoes, quinoa, parsley, roasted vegetables and pine nuts, and gently stir to combine. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Garnish with crumbled feta, if you’d like. Serve at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Inspired by Cookie & Kate
Make it VEGAN: Use a vegan pesto and leave off the feta cheese.