Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Grapes and Spiced Honey Roasted Almonds

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the salad before it got whisked off to work for lunch today, but I can still share the process. The inspiration for the salad was a bowl of grapes that were starting to go soft, as well as some feta cheese. I threw in some fresh red pepper and cucumber and roasted some almonds with honey and spices.

The salad had crunch, spice, sweetness and tartness...yum yum!

Start by heating the oven to 350F.

Put the grapes into an ovenproof dish. I had about 2 cups of seedless red grapes.


Black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves
Olive oil

Mix everything together so that the grapes are coated with oil. Place into the oven and bake until the grapes start to pop open, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a small pan, heat:

pinch of chili flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toss 1 cup of whole almonds in this mixture. Place in an ovenproof dish, in a single layer, and place in the oven with the grapes.

Roast the nuts until they darken and crisp up, and you can smell the aroma of almonds and spices.

Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, with a sprig of fresh rosemary in it for flavour.

When it boils, add 1 cup of quinoa. When it comes back to a boil, cover and turn the heat to simmer.

Allow it to cook slowly until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the pot and place in a large bowl.


the cooked grapes
diced cucumber
diced red pepper
thinly sliced green onion

Gently toss together. Season with salt and pepper, and dress with olive oil and fresh lime juice to taste. Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese and the roasted nuts.

This type of salad is a perfect lunch idea, easy to put together and easy to eat. The quinoa provides protein, fibre and iron and the fruit and vegetables add crunch and more vitamins and minerals. The nuts and feta cheese help to balance out the meal, with more protein, and fibre.

  • The vegetables can be varied, use what you have available. Add chickpeas, olives, grape tomatoes, avocado, orange segments, mango, corn, blanched broccoli or fresh baby spinach leaves. Dried fruit is also a great option, adding sweetness and texture to the salad.
  • Serve the salad as a side salad along with grilled chicken or salmon.
  • I like to keep quinoa in the pantry as it is easy to cook, and adapts to any flavours you choose to pair it with. Another choice instead of quinoa is couscous, or cooked orzo. 
  • If you have leftover meat, shred it up and add it to the salad. If I have a lot of eggs, I boil a few and add those as well.
  • As far as dressing, I usually just go light by adding lemon or lime juice and olive oil to taste. Balsamic vinegar can also be used.
  • Add layers of flavour to your salad by using different fresh herbs and spices when cooking the quinoa, roasting nuts or seeds, grilling meat. Use chicken or vegetable stock to cook the quinoa; apple juice can also be used for part of the liquid.
  • By using a strong cheese to finish off the salad, you add yet another layer of flavour. Try and pair the cheese with the predominant fruit or vegetable in the salad: mango or peach and goat cheese; pear, apple or grapes with blue cheese; dried or fresh figs with fontina or asiago.
  • The salad can be made a day or two ahead. If you want to vary your salads, cook up the quinoa and keep it in the fridge, well covered. All that you need to do now is add in whatever you feel like, and lunch is done!

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