Monday, June 6, 2011

Moroccan Quinoa Salad

I was instantly hooked when I saw this recipe - roasted peppers, quinoa, and Moroccan flavors definitely all float my boat.  My mom and I decided it would be the perfect dish to make and take down to my grandma's for dinner, and it definitely was - she loved it!   We roasted green peppers instead of red peppers just because the red peppers were so expensive at the store - they were four times as much as their green counterparts!  Although it made for a slightly-less-pretty salad, I think the taste was just as good.  You could also save some time and buy jarred red peppers, although you might want to increase the amount - I always find that the yield is a bit more when I roast peppers myself. 

The Moroccan salsa is perfectly balanced with warm spices, acid from the lemon juice, brine-y olives, and sweet raisins.  If you don't like the taste of olives, you could reduce the amount by half, although I didn't find the flavor overpowering at all.  The salsa pairs perfectly with slightly chewy quinoa, which also adds a boost of protein (especially important if you're serving this vegan-style, sans cheese, as the recipe was originally written).  However, I think barley or whole wheat Israeli couscous would also be great in this dish if that's what you have on hand.  Overall, this was a very tasty, light dinner with lots of great flavor!  I think this would also make a great lunch since it's good at room temperature - I'd pack the salsa and quinoa separately and combine them at lunchtime.

Moroccan Quinoa Salad (adapted from Sketch-Free Vegan Eating, original recipe here)
Serves 3-4

Moroccan Salsa
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 5 T olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 T Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • Grated zest of 1 small orange, about 2 tsp
  • Quinoa
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • Garnish 
  • Chopped almonds
  • Crumbled feta cheese 
  • 1. Prepare the salsa. Heat your oven as hot as it will go, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Rub the peppers all over with a thin layer of oil, and then place on the baking sheet.  Roast the peppers until charred in spots and soft all-over, turning occasionally.  Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover with foil.  Allow the peppers to steam for at least 30 minutes.
  • 2. Slip the skins off the peppers and remove the seeds.  Chop into small dice and place in a heat-safe medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • 3. Heat the 5 T oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is shimmering but not smoking, add the cumin and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Pour the hot oil over the peppers and stir to combine.
  • 4. Add the remaining salsa ingredients and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper - you may not need any salt, depending on how salty your olives are.  Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  • 5. Prepare the quinoa.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the quinoa and toast, stirring often, until the quinoa begins to pop (you'll hear it) and get slightly browned.  Then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Boil 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.  Drain off any excess water.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • 6. Serve the quinoa topped with a generous scoop of the Moroccan salsa, and a sprinkling of almonds and feta cheese.  
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Cooling off on the back steps after an afternoon of cooking and baking...


  1. This flavor combo looks really good! I like the use of quinoa because I still have a whole bunch left in the box!

  2. Oh dear how good it looks, i think it is delicious. I will try your recipe for sure, thanks a lot for sharing it.

  3. looks so good! green peppers are a great idea, I suppose any colour pepper would work right? Thanks for using our recipe, glad you enjoyed it :)

  4. I made this last weekend. Used yellow peppers, millet instead of quinoa ('cause I didn't have any of the latter), and no raisins (some in my household don't like sweet food). Well, it was EXCELLENT and enjoyed by all, who thought it was such a flavourful and original-tasting salad.
    Thanks again!