Jan 16 - A Brighter Day

Today I do my penance. Because this is my turn to take Sunday, it meant that I would have to post 2 days in a row and my recipe for yesterday was not very inspired. I promised myself that after yesterday and my measly Desperation Spicy Asian Slaw I would make it up to everyone, including myself, and make something really new and really time consuming. After much poking about, I found this stunning photo on tastespotting and followed the link to find the recipe for this Moroccan Quinoa Salad at Green Kitchen Stories. Of course, if I had chosen to just go to the grocery store and purchase marinated eggplant, peppers and maybe artichokes, this would have turned into something you could whip together pretty quickly on a busy weeknight. Instead, I am home all day on a lazy Sunday and still feel like I have to make up for yesterday so it was either kneel in the corner on a raw rice OR do all the veggies myself.

I changed the recipe up a bit and used it as inspiration for my finished salad. I thinly sliced zucchini, yellow zucchini and eggplant on my mandolin and then cooked them all in the grill pan using just a bit of olive oil and salt.

grilled yellow zucchini, eggplant and zucchini
I only added 1 tsp of cinnamon to 1 cup of raw quinoa because I didn't want to make quite as much as the original recipe called for and 2 tlbs just felt like way too much to me. It was perfect - just the smallest hint of cinnamon and any more would have been overpowering I think. I also used organic red quinoa instead of white quinoa because I haven't used it before and wanted to try it. I cut the oil in the dressing to 3 tbls and bumped up the lemon juice from half a lemon to the juice of a whole lemon. I left out the green onions because I know that they really don't like raw green onions and since I was already sneaking in the squashes and eggplant, I didn't want to push it.

For the finished salad I also added some chopped up yellow and red beets because we love beets, i left out the raisins and instead, I sprinkled some pomegranate seeds over the top of the salad for from colour and little bursts of sweet juiciness.

I would definitely make this again and it was something that fit all of my requirements: It was labour intensive and made up for yesterday's lazy slaw, it is the kind of dish I would normally NEVER make for dinner and It contains some ingredients that the guys think they don't care for.

Recipe for Moroccan Quinoa Salad:

1 zucchini, thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil and grilled (either on a bbq or grill pan)
1 small eggplant, thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil and grilled
1 yellow zucchini, thinly slice, brushed with olive oil and grilled
(or save time and buy marinated veggies from the store)
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
olive oil
kosher salt
1 cup red quinoa
1 tsp cinnamon
juice from 1 lemon
3 tbls olive oil
seeds from half of a pomegranate
handful of roasted, salted almonds
1 avocado
1 roasted or steamed beet, cooled and diced
2 or 3 yellow beets, roasted or steamed, cooled and diced
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

If you are doing your own roasted veggies, do them either on the grill or in your grill pan and set them aside, drizzle them with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt.
If you were smarter than I am and bought some nice marinated veggies from the store, drain them and set them aside (artichokes in oil would be great too)

After I did the zucchinis and the eggplant, i threw the sweet peppers on the grill pan and let them roast away while i prepared the rest of the dish. When all sides were charred and softened, I put the peppers into a paper lunch bag and set them aside to steam.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa exactly the same way you cook your rice. For me, that means rinsing the quinoa well and putting it in the rice cooker so I can walk away and forget about it. The ratio of quinoa to water that I use is for every 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 1/3 cup of liquid.

After the quinoa finishes cooking, let it cool in a big bowl. Chop up the fresh herbs and add them to the cooled quinoa along with the juice from a lemon and 3 tbls of olive oil, a grind of salt and pepper and mix it thoroughly. Set aside.

Gather the rest of your ingredients, peel and chop your avocado and decide how you want to serve your salad. You could probably just throw everything in a big bowl and toss it together, sprinkling the pomegranate seeds and the almonds over the top or you could compose the salad, keeping all of the ingredients separate and let everyone take the components they like, much the way they did for the photo on Green Kitchen Stories.
Either way, this is a really nutritious, delicious salad that could easily stand by itself as a meal and again, if you purchase marinated vegetables , you could make this salad in the time it takes for the quinoa to cook, making it a really great weeknight meal option. I almost wish I hadn't bothered to grill my sesame tri tip to go with it but a bit of steak on the side was a pretty tasty treat on a snowy winter night.

Jan 16 Moroccan Quinoa Salad and Grilled Sesame Tri Tip (the meat was from supperworks)


  1. That is a truly beautiful dish! Was there a noticeable difference in the red quinoa?

  2. kelly, I didn't notice a huge difference in taste - maybe just a slightly stronger taste but my son noticed a difference and didn't care for the red although we eat the white quinoa often.


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