I have to admit I’ve been a bit slow to get into quinoa. I know it’s good for you, in fact I had been using quinoa flakes in baking for some time, but I’d been slow on adopting whole quinoa as a regular food in our diet. However the other day I decided to give it another try. In fact, this salad was the first thing I made when I decided to re-introduce it into my diet and I have to say I’m in love. It contains ingredients I love, namely roasted butternut pumpkin and pecans, and a dressing that I absolutely adore.
This quinoa salad is incredibly simple, and can be made in advance and dressed just before serving. And by the time the pumpkin is roasted the quinoa is cooked, you’ll have the dressing made and it’s ready to be assembled. It’s also delicious hot or cold, making it perfect for transport to work for lunches or picnics in this beautiful weather we are enjoying at the moment.
The dressing is a delicious mix of honey, olive oil and Vino Cotto. Those of you familiar with the wonderful The Cook and The Chef tv show will perhaps already be familiar with Maggie’s beloved Vino Cotto even if you haven’t gotten around to trying it. But if you haven’t tried it yet, please do yourself a favour and get your hands on some because it’s beautiful.
Vino Cotto (sometimes called Vincotto) is a made by slowly cooking down grape skins, flesh, seeds and juices until the sugars have caramelised. It’s taste is somewhat like balsamic, although sweeter, and can be used in any situation where you would use balsamic. It’s the sweetness of the vino cotto that works so beautifully with the pumpkin in this salad, and makes it slightly addictive.
So if you’ve tried quinoa before and weren’t impressed and are keen to try it again I suggest giving this gorgeous and simple quinoa salad a go.
- 200g of red quinoa
- 250 mls of water
- 1 tsp of salt
- 3 cups of butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- 1 cup of baby spinach leaves
- ¼ cup of toasted pecans
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbs of vino cotto or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs of olive oil
- 1 heaped tsp of honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and place the pumpkin and olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender and lightly caramelised.
- While the pumpkin is roasting prepare the quinoa. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and place under cold running water for a few minutes. Use your fingers to toss the grains about to ensure they are well rinsed. Drain and place into a saucepan along with the water and salt. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender. Place the cooked quinoa into a sieve to drain any excess water.
- Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a jar and shaking to combine.
- Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the roasted pumpkin, baby spinach leaves and toss to combine. Just before serving scatter with pecans and add the dressing and toss to combine.