I should probably just rename my blog “Cupcakes & Salad”.
My tagline could be “Eating salad to save room for more cupcakes!”
But that would be a lie, because I LOVE salad.
The salad can be cold or warm with roasted vegetables. I don’t play favorites, but I do flit from obsession to obsession like a butterfly.
And like every other salad I’ve ever posted on AHC, I have eaten this quinoa roasted vegetable chopped salad (or some variation thereof) everyday for about a month. Creature of habit.
I LOVE roasted vegetables. Especially sweet potatoes, baby potatoes and onions. And when you toss all those roasted vegetables in with chopped kale and spinach and a healthy dose of quinoa, you have a winning combination.
Like all good salads, this one can be easily adapted to whatever vegetables you have on hand. It is delicious with roasted sweet potatoes instead of baby potatoes, or with roasted cauliflower. Especially cauliflower.
I posted a photo of my new favorite “secret sauce” on Instagram several weeks ago, and this, my friends, is the secret sauce. It has heart-healthy walnut oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic and roasted red chili paste. Mix all that up with some brown sugar and you’ve got a dressing that will liven up any salad.
I brought this quinoa roasted vegetable chopped salad on the plane with me when I visited my Grandparents in Virginia and my parents on Bald Head Island.
I don’t do airport food. Yes, I got the occasional odd stare but mostly I got envious glances from the fellow passengers. I could read the jealousy on their faces as they glanced down at the ever-shrinking, standard issue, plain plane peanuts…why didn’t they think of making a chopped salad the night before with kale, spinach, roasted vegetables, walnuts, grapes and feta cheese?!
This easy Quinoa Roasted Vegetable Chopped Salad has a delicious and healthy Thai Chili Vinaigrette! A gluten free, vegetarian filling main course or side!
For the Salad:
3 lbs baby potatoes (or sweet potatoes! Yum)
2 red onions, cut in 1 inch sections
5 stalks dinosaur kale (aka lacinato kale or Tuscan kale)
2 large handfuls of spinach (I have big hands, so you might want 3…just sayin’)
½ –1 cup cooked quinoa (use as much or as little to your preference)*
red grapes, sliced in half
handful fresh basil, sliced in thin ribbons
goats cheese (or feta)
For the Sweet Chili Dressing:
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil (this should be stored in the refrigerator)
2 heaping teaspoons Thai Chili Paste
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
2 large pinches kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400° with a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack.
In a large bowl add potatoes and onion. Sprinkle with 2 large pinches kosher salt and about ½ teaspoon black pepper. Drizzle with oil. Start with about 1 tablespoon, toss the veggies and see if they are all coated. They should appear moistened but there should not be any excess oil in the bowl. I also check to see if there is salt and pepper on each piece. Adjust as needed.
Roast the vegetables in preheated oven on preheated pan for 20 minutes, stir and roast an additional 20 minutes. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need another 20 minutes before you start checking for doneness. Potatoes should be easily pierced with a fork and the outsides should be browning nicely.
While the vegetables cook, prepare the rest of your salad and dressing. Removed the ribs from the kale and slice into thin ribbons, as thinly as possible; add to an extra large bowl. Chop the spinach and add to the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients through basil and toss to distribute.
I like to let my quinoa cool a little before adding it to the mixture because it will be HOT and it will wilt the spinach too much.
When the veggies are done add as many as desired to the bowl and toss all ingredients to distribute evenly. Drizzle with dressing, tossing as you go, until there is enough to your taste. On this salad I use a little more than usual because the rice vinegar is mild and the chili and garlic add a lot of flavor.
Add cheese if desired and serve slightly warm and enjoy!**
To make the dressing:
Add all ingredients to a salad dressing jar or another container that you can close completely. Shake vigorously until combined. The dressing will not emulsify for 2 reasons: garlic isn’t a very good emulsifier and we aren’t meticulously whisking in the oil to try to emulsify it. I am too lazy and I don’t like to wash the extra dishes. It will hold together long enough to pour on the salad and it will not separate on the salad. Those are the only components I really care about. You do you.
*Cooking Quinoa: The general ratio is 1: 2, dried quinoa to water or broth. Quinoa will generally double in volume when cooked. I always cook extra to have on hand for the next day along with the left over roasted vegetables.
In a medium sauce pan add quinoa, water, a little olive oil (about 1 teaspoon for each cup of water) and a pinch or two of kosher salt; stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. The quinoa will be soft and a strand on the top of each quinoa grain will separate when fully cooked.
**This can also be pre-mixed and refrigerated overnight (like I did before my flights). It will taste just as good but cold roasted potatoes have a drier texture than fresh from the oven or even reheated. I obviously didn’t mind.
Variations: Use 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes, or 1 head of cauliflower instead of the baby potatoes. You can also use yellow onions but I love the flavor of roasted red onions! I’ve also thrown whole cloves of garlic into the mix.
My husband is not a fan of potatoes in salad or really in general, so he much preferred the sweet potatoes. They were very good…try both.