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Flavor First
June 2020



Quinoa Salad Romesco
By Cheryl Forberg, RD


Quinoa Salad Romesco


Growing up in the Midwest, our produce offerings were very limited compared to the plethora of fruit and vegetables that are available to me now in California. Certainly, there weren’t any hybrid or exotic fruit or vegetable choices in Minnesota at that time. Avocado was so rare that a classmate actually brought one for Show and Tell in fourth grade and nobody, including our teacher had ever seen one.

Our fruit choices were usually bananas, oranges or apples, but in the winter, canned fruit was very common, especially peaches and pears. My grandmothers were both great cooks and introduced me to cherries, strawberries and raspberries on summer visits.

In terms of vegetables, I was lucky that my uncles were all farmers, because that gave us access to boatloads of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and sweet corn in the summer. Canned or frozen vegetables were a constant in the winter though. Salads were strictly limited to iceberg lettuce with added tomatoes and cucumber in the summer. Salad dressing always came from the door of the refrigerator, and we usually didn’t have a choice. It was either French or Thousand Island. We never had a homemade vinaigrette and even today, I have friends who are too intimidated (or time-restricted) to consider making their own.

I try to make everything from scratch, including condiments. Vinaigrettes are quick to prepare and have unlimited variations when you change up the oil, vinegar and/or the seasonings. But I also love to try different dressings that have added flavor or texture from adding vegetables, cheese or even nuts. Romesco Sauce is a Spanish creation that was prepared as a condiment for fish. It contains roast red pepper, garlic, vinegar, ground almonds or hazelnuts and bread is sometimes added as an inexpensive thickener. This sauce is also delicious with grilled chicken or used as a dip for crudité. I thinned a classic Romesco sauce recipe with a little more vinegar and drizzled in olive oil to create a tangy and tasty salad dressing. This is really one of my favorite salads because it is easy to prep ahead of time, and there is always extra dressing that I can use the next day on another salad or as a condiment on grilled fish or chicken.

Makes two large/entrée-size servings or 4 appetizer servings

Recipe Adapted with permission from Cooking with Quinoa for Dummies by Cheryl Forberg, RD (copyright 2012)

Ingredients for Quinoa Salad Romesco


For the salad:

2 cups cooked Melissa’s black, white, or red quinoa
6 cups chopped or torn lettuce or baby spinach
1 cup diced fresh tomato or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup diced, seeded cucumber
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:

1 large Melissa’s roasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Melissa’s chopped garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chile
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

For the salad:

Prepare the Romesco Dressing. Set aside until ready to use.

Combine and mix the quinoa, lettuce (or spinach), tomato, cucumber, and mint in a large mixing bowl.


Combine and mix the quinoa, lettuce (or spinach), tomato, cucumber, and mint in a large mixing bowl.

Pour half of the prepared dressing over the salad and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Reserve extra dressing for another use.


Pour half of the prepared dressing over the salad and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Reserve extra dressing for another use.

For the dressing:

Roughly chop the red pepper into medium-sized pieces and place them in bowl of a food processor or blender.


Roughly chop the red pepper into medium-sized pieces and place them in bowl of a food processor or blender.

Add the almonds, vinegar, water, garlic, chile, and lemon peel to the diced pepper and process until smooth.


Add the almonds, vinegar, water, garlic, chile, and lemon peel to the diced pepper and process until smooth.

With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream through the feed tube (the sauce will thicken). Season with salt and pepper.

Vary It! For a peppery mix, use romaine, watercress, and arugula as the salad greens.

Tip: You can keep the finished salad in the fridge for a day or two, depending on how delicate the salad greens you use. Any leftover dressing is delicious as a sauce or a dip for roasted or grilled vegetables.