When you think of Valentine’s Day, red is probably the first color that comes to mind. That’s exactly what our founder, Nina, had in mind when she created this “Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables.” But Nina didn’t initially plan on publishing the recipe. She just wanted to make a sweet and simple side salad for her family to enjoy on the big V-Day.
Turns out, it was too beautiful and too tasty not to share – and it’s so much more than a pretty salad bowl. It just so happens that every beautiful red layer in the bowl is loaded with powerful antioxidants known to help prevent heart disease, fight cancer and even ward off inflammation. Now, we’re bringing all the nutrition and utter deliciousness to you.
THE BALANCING ACT
Combined with eating a rainbow of other whole foods, enjoying just one or two daily servings of red and reddish foods can do wonders for your overall wellness. This is because their pronounced red colors, and all other bright shades characteristic of vegetables, fruits and other whole foods, come from the various hues of phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients themselves are health-promoting chemicals naturally produced by plant-based foods. Since they are heavily pigmented, the deeper the food’s color, the more phytonutrients it contains.
With deep red and reddish ingredients, each layer of our quinoa salad bowl recipe boasts loads of phytonutrients along with plenty of fiber, good fats and protein. Topped with That Salad Lady’s maple red wine vinaigrette dressing, the recipe itself is 100% vegan, gluten-free and makes for a perfect side salad or even a full meal deal.
Let’s talk more about all the ingredients in this Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and why they’re in it.
Delicious and Earthy Red Quinoa
At the top of the ingredients list is red quinoa, which has a stronger, nuttier flavor compared to white. Red quinoa also holds its texture slightly better than white so it’s a really good choice for this particular salad bowl recipe. In addition, due to its natural pigment, red quinoa contains more health-promoting phytonutrients too. You’ll also get a good dose of protein with quinoa as it’s only one of a few plant-based foods that’s considered a complete protein.
Mild and Crispy Red Kale
If you follow That Salad Lady, you already know we’re huge fans of kale. Among the top five suppliers of antioxidants, a single serving of raw kale houses a day’s worth of vitamin C and contains more vitamin K per serving than any other food in the world (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). In addition to its superior nutritional profile, kale has a fresh, natural flavor and crisp texture that really livens the bowl.
We suggest using red kale, due to its mild, slightly sweet and earthy flavor and crisp, hearty texture. However, any type of kale works for this quinoa salad recipe. Though red kale comes with the bonus of anthocyanins (the same beneficial pigment found in red wine), all kale varieties are rich in valuable nutrients.
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables
You might not know them by name, but you’ve probably eaten a good number of root vegetables in your lifetime. Perhaps beets, carrots and radishes ring a bell? There are many others. As implied by the name, root veggies are grown underground and pack a whole lot of nutrition, especially the red ones owing to their rich content of phytonutrient pigments.
Our quinoa salad recipe calls for roasting a combination of beets, carrots and radishes and we love the variety of flavors they collectively bring to the bowl. While the beets and carrots are delightfully earthy and sweet, the radishes deliver crisp, peppery flavor.
We suggest using rainbow carrots in the recipe, which generally come in red, purple and even white hues. These are great for roasting but they’re not as easy to come by and generally come at a higher price point. Feel free to use regular orange carrots if price is an issue or if that’s what you have. They’re just as nutritious and tasty when roasted.
Maple Candied Walnuts for the Win
To bring all the functional ingredients we’ve talked about to life, our recipe also calls for candied walnuts. We include specific instructions for candying the walnuts in a combination of maple syrup and cinnamon. Though maple syrup is a quality sweetener, it does drive up the sugar content of the bowl. If this is an issue, simply forgo the candying process and simply toast the walnuts instead (see recipe card).
Whether candied or toasted, walnuts bring great flavor, texture and nutrition to the bowl. If you don’t have walnuts or even like them, you can substitute equal amounts of pecans, almonds or even cashews.
Tangy Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette
Finally, we round out our quinoa salad blend with That Salad Lady’s homemade red wine vinaigrette dressing which is a tangy and sweet blend of red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, maple syrup and herbs. It’s a 100% vegan dressing for this 100% vegan salad bowl but if this isn’t an issue, you can easily substitute the maple syrup for honey, which is not vegan. If you choose not to make the dressing at all, any mildly sweet-flavored vinaigrette will do the trick.
We recommend mixing the dressing first as you’ll be using it to marinate the root veggies before roasting them. That Salad Lady’s red wine vinaigrette is included as part of the recipe (see recipe card). If you plan to dress your finished blend, you’ll use half the dressing to marinate the veggies and use some or all the remaining dressing to dress the finished salad bowl. Any unused dressing will last in the fridge for up to a week.
The dressing is super simple to make. Just gather all the ingredients, add them to a jar with a twist off lid and shake it up until everything’s well-mixed. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a small bowl. Again, if you choose not to make our dressing, any mildly sweet-flavored vinaigrette will work for the recipe.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
All the veggie ingredients in our quinoa salad recipe require some chopping (see video below for prepping ideas). As always, using a good chef’s knife will make the chopping process a whole lot easier but you can use whatever sharp knife you have.
We suggest chopping the root veggies first, as they’ll take some time to roast. While the beets require a bit of prepping before chopping as described below, you’ll simply rinse the carrots and radishes, cut off their root and stem ends and then slice or dice them into small pieces. While the root veggies are roasting, you can chop up the kale and give it a good massage using our recipe.
Peel and Cube the Beets
Start by removing the beet greens by hand or with your knife. Don’t throw them away. Beet greens are totally edible and can be added to smoothies or sautéed just as you would sauté spinach, kale or other leafy greens (check out That Salad Lady’s video on TikTok or Instagram to see how it’s done).
Once you’ve removed the greens, rinse and scrub the beets in cold water to remove all loose dirt and debris. Washing beets in vinegar is a good way to do this. Simply use a solution of three parts water and one part vinegar to get the job done. You can also use a vegetable wash if you have one. For an even more thorough rinse, scrub the beets with a clean, rough sponge. Once the beets are all rinsed, gently dry them with a clean dishcloth or paper towels.
After you’ve dried the beets well, trim off their tops and bottoms and peel them using either a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Beets are heavily pigmented, so some hand staining is just part of the peeling process. You can wear cooking gloves if you wish. Once you’ve removed the skin, slice and then dice the beets into small cubes.
Chop Up and Massage the Kale
We suggest de-stemming the kale leaves and then chopping them into small, bite-sized pieces. You can use pre-packaged kale to cut down on prep time, but you may still need to chop up the leaves further. From here, give the kale a nice, thorough rinse in warm water, massaging all the chopped leaves well as you rinse them. Drain the rinsed kale in a colander or use a salad spinner if you have one.
Once the kale is completely drained, transfer it to a medium bowl and coat the leaves with a drizzle of olive oil and a little sprinkle of sea salt, and then toss and massage them by hand (you can wear disposable food prep gloves if you wish) for 3-5 minutes. Massaging kale this way softens the leaves and reduces their volume in much the same way that cooking them would.
Cooking is required for the: (1) root veggies, (2) quinoa and (3) walnuts. Just decide whether you want to toast or candy the walnuts.
Roast the Root Vegetables
To roast the beets, carrots and radishes, heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all the chopped veggies together in a large bowl, toss them with half the prepared dressing (or whatever dressing you choose) and add sprinkles of kosher salt and pepper to taste. Once coated, spread out the veggies on a baking dish and then roast them in the oven until they’re tender and lightly browned. This’ll take about 20-25 minutes.
Rinse and Boil the Quinoa
While the root veggies roast, place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water. If you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer, just use a coffee filter. This is an important step as quinoa is naturally coated with compounds called saponins, which give it a bitter taste. Once the quinoa is all rinsed and drained, add it to a saucepan filled with water. For one cup of uncooked quinoa, you’ll want to use two cups of water, which’ll yield about three cups cooked.
Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat and then lower the temperature to medium-low and cover it as it simmers. You’ll want to cook the quinoa until it’s absorbed all the water (about 10-20 minutes). At this point, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set it aside until you’re ready to build your bowl.
Toast or Candy the Walnuts
To toast the walnuts, heat up the oven to 350 degrees F and bake them for 5-10 minutes. That’s it! Doesn’t get any simpler than this. Candying requires a bit more hands-on time, but the process is pretty straightforward. Just combine some maple syrup and cinnamon in a skillet with a little salted water and then add the walnuts. The total cooking time is less than five minutes (see recipe card).
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to build your bowl, combine all the ingredients (minus the walnuts), drizzle on some of the remaining dressing to taste and stir everything together for a nice, even distribution of colors.
You can eat or serve the salad warm or let it chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This gives the flavors time to come together. Add more dressing on a bowl-by-bowl basis but there’s no need to worry about the ingredients getting soggy. In this case, marinating is a good thing. Top off the salad with walnuts when you’re ready to eat or serve it.
All put together, the actual blend is large enough for six generous-sized servings. You can use it to round out a meal as a side dish or add a protein to make it a full meal deal. In an airtight sealed container, leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Add Your Finishing Touches
To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your salad, throw in a handful of cooked salmon, chicken or even roasted extra-firm tofu to keep the blend 100% vegan. Visit our Nutrition Glossary for more ideas. It’s all about making YOU confident in building YOUR bowl.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.