Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and a Creamy Greek Yogurt and Orange Dressing

White dish full of quinoa and roasted vegetable salad beside a glass container containing creamy orange salad dressing.

This recipe is a testament to the infinite usefulness of leftovers; cold cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner form the framework for this hearty grain salad. I can’t think of a single vegetable that wouldn’t be a delicious addition, and for this particular version I used red onions, sweet peppers, fennel, carrots, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms that had been roasted for 45 minutes at 375 degrees the previous evening (a massive plate of roasted vegetables on a rainy Friday night is my idea of heaven). The black sesame seeds and hemp hearts add a nutty flavour and extra texture, both could be substituted with other seeds or nuts or even omitted entirely. There’s something about the taste of fresh citrus on grain salads that I love, especially during December when all of the lovely oranges are beginning to appear at produce stands in Vancouver. I used a Cara Cara orange for this salad because I love their bitter and only slightly sweet flavour but any type would work well, including my two other favourites, clementines and blood oranges. Serve this salad at room temperature either as is, or with avocado and orange slices gently stirred in on a bed of mixed baby greens. This quinoa salad will keep in the fridge for several days and therefore makes a great portable lunch or reliable dinner at the end of a long day.

quinoa salad with roasted vegetables:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

About 2 generous cups worth of cold, leftover roasted vegetables

1 leek, the white part only cut into very thin half moons

1/2-3/4 cup of Italian parsley, finely shredded

1/4 cup of dried cranberries or cherries, minced

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

creamy greek yogurt and orange salad dressing:

Juice and zest of 1 orange

2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. kosher salt

Generous pinch of freshly cracked pepper

  1. In a large salad bowl combine the quinoa, roasted vegetables, chopped leek, parsley, dried fruit, sesame seeds, and hemp hearts.
  2. Shake all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass jar and pour over the quinoa and roasted vegetable mixture stirring gently to cover.
  3. Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes, serving at room temperature as is, garnished with orange and avocado slices, or on a large bed of mixed greens.

Hexagonal dish of quinoa salad with Christmas lights off to the side.

Of course I’m listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, good grief.

Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio

 

Savoury Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Mahon

Bowl of barley risotto with rosemary and Mahon cheese

This barley risotto is deeply savoury, but also woodsy tasting and earthy in its complexity of flavours. The rosemary adds just the right amount of piney substance and the mushrooms lend the perfect amount of umami (which is to say, great amounts of umami). You could certainly use a cheese like aged Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano if you can’t find Mahon for this recipe. If you can find Mahon then try and get your hands on an aged version (it’s often sold as Mahon Authentique in North America). Mahon is a firm cow’s milk cheese from Spain that is a buttery marigold colour; it smells like a cellar and a fresh cut lawn all at the same time. Its flavour is one of intense grassiness and dark earth – I could wax poetic on the subject forever, what I’m trying to tell you is that it’s an absolutely lovely table cheese to have on hand and a nice alternative to Manchego when you’re having company over for Spanish tapas. If I was making this meal for a dinner party I would serve it with a really bright salad full of shaved fennel and oranges, a plate of marinated olives, some pears that your guests can just help themselves to, and a bottle of something big, red, and spicy.

savoury barley risotto with mushrooms and mahon:

Scant cup of bread crumbs, homemade or panko crumbs work best

1 cup of pearl barley

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 large leek, cut into half moons

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

About 1 good sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

2 tsp. lemon juice or balsamic vinegar

About 5 cups of vegetable stock

Thick shavings or gratings of Mahon Authentique cheese

  1. Begin with a large skillet. Over medium heat, toast the breadcrumbs first (this will happen within seconds, so stir constantly and transfer to a plate as soon as they’ve turned a dark golden brown colour).
  2. Next, toast the barley and almonds together while stirring frequently (but not constantly). As soon as they begin to turn golden transfer them to a large bowl.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat, adding the mushrooms, leek, garlic, and celery. Cook for several minutes until the ingredients begin to soften. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper and continue cooking for five more minutes.
  4. Add the barley and almonds back to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and vegetables. Pour in the vegetable stock, soy or tamarin sauce, and lemon juice or vinegar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every few minutes, until the stock has been absorbed by the barley. When it looks like it has the consistency of risotto try the barley to make sure it’s cooked, you want it to be soft but chewy.
  5. To serve the barley risotto ladle it into a shallow bowl and top with a handful of the toasted bread crumbs and a generous amount of shaved Mahon cheese.

Barley Risotto Mis En PlaceI recently added a whole bunch of music to my computer that I a)thought I had lost and b)forgot I even had (out of sight out of mind if stronger than I realize, especially considering I’ve seen The xx twice live and thought both shows were incredible). It was a combination “Oh yeahhhh!” and “Oh yayyy!” moment when I started listening to this album again, like a forgotten treasure I found in the backyard. So here you are, minimalism at its best and sexiest.

The xx  – Heart Skipped a Beat