When we were in New Zealand, we took a kayaking and hiking tour to Rangitoto Island right outside of Auckland. It was fantastic. And, on that excursion, which began at 4pm and ended around 10pm, our extremely handsome tour guide, Nic, cooked us dinner on Rangitoto before we hiked up to see the sunset. We had hot steak on a grill, which appeared out of nowhere, and a quinoa salad that he made himself, with the classic tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and olives.
Ever since then, we have felt very obsessed about quinoa salad. And, when we got home, our first opportunity to make quinoa salad was at our Friendsgiving feast. I have actually screwed up making quinoa before - I cooked it too long or too hot or too something and it melted into glue. Disgusting. So, I sought out explicit instructions for a solid quinoa base, along with some good suggestions about mix-ins to make the salad a bit more thanksgivingy. This recipe is adapted from one that I found in Food & Wine. Enjoy!
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa
Fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice (~4 medium size)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional, or more if you love it like me)
Preheat the oven to 400. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the quinoa and toast over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, turning once, until golden and slightly softened. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 6 tbsp of olive oil with the apple cider vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, parsley, onion, pecans, cranberries, and feta. Toss well, serve immediately.