Quinoa and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad | With Lemon Vinaigrette and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

For those of you who participated in Virtual Vegan Potluck this past Saturday, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The scope of recipes that was brought to the table was remarkable, as was the care and expertise with which each dish was presented. I was really inspired by how creative – and in many cases, outright gourmet – the dishes were, flying in the face of any negative stereotype of ‘vegan potluck food’ one might hold. Vegan bloggers are clearly a talented lot! If you’re interested in checking out the potluck from the beginning, you can do so here.

Cherry1

I also was super impressed by how smoothly the potlcuk came together – although I’m sure Annie at An Unrefined Vegan and Somer at Vedged Out, who coordinate the event, would disagree; just a guess, but rounding up 160+ bloggers from around the world and figuring out the logistics of getting them to post in unison must be a bit of migraine headache. I admire her dedication to making the whole thing happen!

Cherry2

My sweet tooth was given full expression with the Salted Triple Chocolate Brownies I made for the potluck. Maybe the best thing about vegan baking is that you can sneak spoonfuls of the batter without risking salmonella poisoning, something I fully took advantage of while I was making my brownies. By the time I’d finished photographing and then sampling the final product, I felt like I’d definitely reached my sugar quota for the week, maybe even the month! Whenever that happens – and it certainly wasn’t the first time – I feel the need to ‘undo the damage’ wrought by the demonic baked good in question via a super healthy concoction of some sort.

Cherry3

… Which is where this salad comes into the picture. Being a quinoa salad, it’s inherently nutritious – but with the bold flavours of marinated artichoke hearts, sweet balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, lemon zest and crunchy radishes and toasted sunflower seeds, it’s anything but rabbit food! It makes a satisfying lunch on its own, and is also great as a side dish – but maybe the best way to enjoy this salad – and I only discovered this with the leftovers – is to bundle it up in a wrap and eat it that way. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – bread of any description always takes things to the next level!

Cherry4

Recipe: Quinoa and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad | With Lemon Vinaigrette and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (zest your lemon first and set the zest aside; you’ll need it for the salad)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 25 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 6 medium basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 4 radishes, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup plain sunflower seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Roast cherry Tomatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and collapsed (tomatoes will leak a lot of juice while roasting – it’s OK)
  5. Rem0ve from oven and set aside to cool.

Cook quinoa

  1. While tomatoes are roasting, combine rinsed quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let quinoa cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Prepare Lemon Vinaigrette

  1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, coriander and salt in a small bowl and whisk everything until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Set aside until needed.

Toast Sunflower Seeds

  1. Place sunflower seeds in a small skillet over medium heat.
  2. Tossing continuously, toast seeds until just golden brown (this will only take a couple minutes – be careful, they burn easily!).
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Assemble Salad

  1. Place cooled quinoa, shallots, artichokes, radishes, basil, lemon zest and toasted sunflower seeds in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Gently fold in roasted tomatoes and juices from roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle lemon vinaigrette into bowl toss until everything is combined.
  4. Serve, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

You might also like:

Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

As an avid fan of anything and everything related to food, there is no stronger proof that I’m under the weather than when I want no part of it: not see it, not smell it, not read about it, not write about it, not be near it and certainly not eat it. Such has been the case for the last few days. While I wasn’t afflicted with a full-on stomach flu, my body was clearly trying to fight one off, as I completely lost my appetite, was in bed with body aches that would randomly come and go, and had ZERO physical and mental energy. I was feeling quite sorry for myself, trust me!

Mutsu1

Hunter (aka nocturnal feeder extraordinaire) continues to wake me up 5-6 times per night to nurse, so my mystery illness may have just been a culmination of not getting a decent night’s sleep in recent – make that distant – memory, but that still doesn’t explain my very uncharacteristic loss of appetite (seriously, even on my deathbed I’m sure I’ll be sending requests for coffee and donuts). There’s a particularly virulent flu ravaging all of North America this year, so I’ll stick with my theory that maybe I had a touch of it, although no unsavoury bodily emissions actually occurred, thank goodness!

Mutsu2

I prepared and photographed this salad last week, but before I could publish the recipe symptoms of the mystery illness began to take hold and suddenly I decided I hated food in all its forms. My own cooking struck me as particularly unappealing and consequently I felt entirely disinclined to write a single word about this salad for days. A quinoa and black bean-stuffed pepper concoction, although tasty, was another casualty of my being sick and also fell by the wayside. Now that I can face food again I’ll hopefully have the latter posted here ASAP as well 🙂

Mutsu3

This salad was built around daikon radish and represents my first go with this ingredient. I had long been intrigued with daikon but always passed it by at the green grocer – along with celery root – as I didn’t know what it tasted like or what to do with it (the same still goes for celery root). Finally I took the plunge and found that although it looks radically different than the red radishes I normally use, its taste and texture are quite similar, although it’s maybe a bit milder and juicier.

Mutsu4

My first instinct was to use the daikon raw in a salad, although it can also also be eaten cooked – GiRRL_Earth told me she added it to this minestrone soup recipe, and I also recently saw it stir fried with sesame oil here. So clearly it’s a versatile ingredient! I thought it was a nice addition to this salad and really liked it in combination with the pear-like flavour and crispness of the Mutsu apples, the fresh crunch of the celery and romaine hearts, and the zing of the blueberry-shallot dressing. While I’m in no position to attest to the purported anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties of daikon (sadly it didn’t have the power to halt the mystery illness in its tracks), I’ll certainly be bringing it into the rotation of vegetables I cook with on a regular basis 🙂

Recipe: Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

For Blueberry Shallot Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (thawed if using frozen berries)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 leave of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 daikon radish, sliced into 10 or so thin strips (using a mandolin or vegetable peeler)
  • 1 Mutsu apple, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup sweet green peas (thawed if using frozen peas)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method:
Prepare Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette: Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
Assemble salad: Place sliced apple in a large salad bowl and toss with lemon juice (this will prevent apple from browning). Add other ingredients and gently toss to combine.
Divvy salad into two portions and top with blueberry-shallot vinaigrette and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!