Every now and then I get really inspired to cook with Quinoa. I really like it, and it was only recently that I noticed that there are more than one type of Quinoa to buy. Red Quinoa was the one that struck my fancy, but there is a Black Quinoa out there and even a Purple Quinoa that I really would love to try.
First thing that I noticed with the Red Quinoa is that it takes longer to cook than the package suggests. I think 14 minutes was on the package and it took more like 21 minutes for the quinoa to really absorb the water and tenderize. Even after 21 minutes there was still a little bit of water left in the pan, I just strained the water out of the quinoa and went from there.
This is one of many recipes that involves roasted beets! Roasting beets is easy – it just takes a bit of time. The larger beets can take almost 2 hours to cook all the way through. Don’t be dismayed, the wait is worth it, also it’s not like you have to sit in the kitchen and wait on the beets to be done. Set a timer and go do something else for a little bit.
For this recipe I cut most everything into matchstick sized pieces: the carrots, beets, apple, shallot. Nice long thin slivers of everything.
I also used a very nice Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar from a great store in Newport, Rhode Island called “Virgin and Aged”. They specialize in oils and vinegars and always have something perfect for what I’m cooking. This particular vinegar really does have the essence of apples and it is was just perfect for this salad. Use a nice balsamic vinegar if you don’t feel like taking the ride to Rhode Island. Letting the shallot and apples soak in the balsamic vinegar is also another optional step but I feel like the soak makes the shallot a little less oniony and the apple just soaks up the flavor.
This salad is really pleasing to look at, the deep red of the beet and the brown from the quinoa really make the carrots pop. The toasted pine nuts are optional but really set this one over the top if you feel like splurging. I always feel like everything needs a healthy sprinkling of parsley over the top and especially so for salads like this. Parsley really does add quite a bit of flavor that I can only describe as fresh and clean. Not to mention the green it adds is always a welcome finishing touch to almost everything.