Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad

We had a busy weekend at our house with Jenn, Brad and our niece and nephew, Laura and Matthew, coming to visit. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we spent a lot of time on our beach, as well as spending an afternoon downtown at Millennium Park. Watching the kids experience the city for the first time was really fun – seeing their eyes widen as they look at all of the tall buildings. And then spending an hour splashing in the water at the Crown Fountain was definitely a highlight of the weekend.

My nephew Matthew is also celiac, and I love cooking for him and seeing him try new things. My sister-in-law, Jenn, is also an accomplished baker, and always brings homeade gluten-free bread and treats – a special treat for me, since I don’t bake much.

With a houseful of family this weekend, I got behind on meal planning and cooking for the week. Coming home from work Tuesday afternoon, I needed to play catch up in the kitchen. I also needed to dispose of some serious quantities of zucchini from the CSA last week, so I decided to improvise to create a new quinoa salad, and I am thrilled with the results. Grilled veggies are a summer treat – I love the slightly charred edges of grilled zucchini and bell pepper, the sweetness of grilled onion, and the mellow flavor of grilled carrots that are still slightly crisp. Tossed together with a light lemon vinaigrette, I’ll be quite happy to take this salad for lunch for the rest of the week.

Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad
serves 6 as a main course

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 red onion, sliced in 1/3″ slices
6 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise in 1/3″ slices
2 small red bell peppers, sliced vertically into wide slices
1 large carrot, sliced lengthwise into 1/8″ slices
1/2 cup parsley, minced
splash of olive oil, dash of salt & pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette:
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 T dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cook the quinoa according to your package instructions, with water & 1/2 tsp salt – or, do what I do, and make it in your rice cooker. When it is done, fluff it up with a wooden spoon, then pour it into a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool fully.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your grill. Slice all of your veggies except for the onion, and place in another mixing bowl. Pour in a splash of olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt & pepper, and toss quickly with your hands to lightly coat all of the veg. Slice the onion into thick slices, then take toothpicks and skewer each onion slice so that they’ll hold together on the grill and you’ll be able to flip them.
  3. When the grill is hot, carefully place each slice of veg on the grill, being careful not to lose any of them down the grate (a couple slices of zuke were sacrificed on our grill). Grill for 4 minutes on each side, and grill until the veggies are softened and just starting to get some lovely char on them. Turn off the grill, and remove all the veggies and place them on a large platter in one layer, to cool completely – you want to avoid piling them up and turning your grilled veggies into steamed veggies.
  4. While the veggies cool, mix up the vinaigrette. Combine the lemon juice, zest, mustard, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the oil, and mix briskly with a fork. Set aside.
  5. Mixing it all together: Chop all of the beautifully roasted veg into 1/2″ chunks, including the onion. Mince the parsley. Toss the veg and parsley with the quinoa and stir to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over top and gently stir to combine, then dish it up.

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