It’s time for another quinoa salad! With so many possibilities for flavor combinations, I have yet to get tired of making them. For this salad, I decided to embrace some of the spring vegetables that have graced the produce section of the grocery store. I paired red bell peppers with asparagus as the star flavors, and added baby arugula, fresh basil, roasted almonds, and a balsamic vinaigrette to make the dish extra delicious.
My favorite part about this salad is the rich flavors that develop from roasting both the peppers and asparagus. You can buy jarred roasted red peppers from the store, but I like to roast them myself because it’s quick and easy to do and you can control the level of roasting. I like my roasted peppers when they’re still a little crisp, which you don’t always get from the jarred variety.
I also love the slight mysteriousness about this salad. Once all the ingredients are combined, it’s hard to pick out exactly what’s in it that makes it taste so good. The asparagus, peppers, arugula, and almonds are obvious, but the basil and dressing hide within the salad and surprise you with bursts of flavor. Add some heat from the chili flakes and citrus brightness from the lemon and it’s a taste sensation you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!
Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Quinoa Salad
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon mustard
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 cups arugula
- 20 basil leaves (about 1/4 cup when chopped)
- 2 handfuls slivered almonds
- a few shakes of red chili flakes
- juice from one lemon wedge
- salt and pepper to taste
Begin by roasting the asparagus and red peppers. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with foil. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus by gently bending each stalk towards its base between two hands until in naturally snaps. Coat evenly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cut the peppers in quarters so that they will roast quicker and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Spread vegetables evenly on the baking sheets (keeping them separate). Roast the asparagus for 15 minutes and the peppers for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. Once the peppers have roasted, be sure to peel the skin off because it becomes really tough. In the meantime, bring quinoa, 2 cups of water, and smashed whole garlic cloves to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender (about 15 minutes). Remove the garlic cloves and chop into small pieces. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, minced garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Add in roasted asparagus and peppers (chopped in bite-sized pieces), arugula, basil, almonds, chili flakes, and lemon and toss together. Gently fold in the quinoa. Serve hot or cold.