I hate to make demands. On anyone, about anything. However, I’m going to have to insist, nay, demand that you make this salad. Or, at the very least, make this dressing. Please? It is THAT good. The maple syrup provides natural sweetness, and tempers the flavors of the vinegar and garlic. It’s incredibly simple, and I want it on everything.
I first made this salad on Christmas Eve, for my gluten free family members, but it’s a delicious and hearty winter salad for everyone! I love dishes that can be served hot, warm, room temperature and even cold, and this salad definitely fits that bill. I like it best warm to room temperature, but because it’s great at any temperature, it makes an ideal make ahead recipe. I often cook up a big batch of quinoa early in the week, so it’s a cinch to pull together at any time. I would just save the parsley until you’re ready to serve. This also keeps well for a few days in your fridge.
Any nut will work for this – I chose pecans because they’re common in holiday dishes, and are an ideal partner to the dried cranberries and maple dressing. Toasting them intensifies their flavors and once they’re coated with that dressing, well, it’s just divine. I’m just slightly in love with that dressing. I know. But food excites me.
The shallot provides a nice sharp, contrasting bite. I would not use regular onion (red or otherwise) in this, their flavor can be a bit overpowering, especially when raw. Mincing the shallot allows it to meld well with the sweet and tart flavors in the rest of the salad, and parsley adds a freshness that just perks everything right up. If you’re scared of raw shallots, I would blanch them in boiling water for a quick minute, that will help mellow their flavor.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do – in fact, I made a second batch earlier this week and am happily munching on it all week. It’s naturally vegan, clean and full of good for you ingredients. Cheers to that!
quinoa salad with sweet potato + cranberry.
inspired by Quite Good Food.
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
dash of sea salt and pepper, to taste
For the dressing: Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and combine. Alternatively, finely mince the garlic and mix together in a small jar or bowl. Taste and adjust salt and/or pepper if necessary.
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Heat a small skillet over low heat and add pecans. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add cooked and cooled quinoa, sweet potato, toasted pecans, shallot, cranberries and parsley. Mix gently to combine. Add 1/3-1/2 of the dressing, mix and taste, adding more by the tablespoon if desired.
Serves 4 as a side.
**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**