Rather recently, I was talking to the man in my life about how my day went, happenings, weather… you know, small talk. Then he said something big, my idea of big anyway. He had bought himself some organic quinoa at Costco. This is awesome because A) he independently thought it would be cool to have some super grain kicking around and B) uuum, did you see A?
Suffice to say, I was rather pleased at this development and set out to make a little salad with some strong and fresh flavours that he could get into. I know quinoa salad recipes are ubiquitous to say the least, but this one’s a keeper for me anyway. Charred fennel, fresh dill, spicy radishes and a healthy dose of lemon… it’s a supreme combo. And the fennel loses a bit of its, I don’t know, fennel-y-ness once caramelized. It’s a bit softer and a lot less licorice tasting. Just nice.
Quinoa is pretty easy to cook and the rest of the vegetables need just a bit of chopping. I don’t even pre-whisk the dressing ingredients, just pour all of the components on top of the grain and vegetables and mix it up. Once you get the pre-soaking of the quinoa thing down, you’re off and running.
grilled/roasted fennel and quinoa salad recipe
notes: I soak quinoa for about 15 minutes before I strain and cook it, just to get some of the bitterness off. Also, you’re just grilling the fennel to soften it up a bit and get some char happening. Roasting would achieve the same thing more or less.
3/4 cup quinoa, soaked and strained (any colour)
1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed, cut in half + core removed (save some of the fronds for garnish)
4 radishes, halved and sliced thin
1/2 of an english cucumber, diced small
3 sprigs of dill or 1/4 cup chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil + extra for grilling/roasting
handful of chopped, toasted nuts/seeds (optional)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F if you’re roasting the fennel, and line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Preheat a gas grill to high if you’re grilling the fennel.
Cook the quinoa: combine quinoa with 1.5 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Grill the fennel: brush the fennel with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place onto a grill heated to high, cut side down. Grill until char marks are achieved on both sides and fennel feels a bit soft. Remove and cut into a rough small dice once cool. I do this by placing the flat side of the fennel down, cutting into lengthwise slices and then cutting those slices into smaller pieces.
Or roast the fennel: slice the halves of fennel and toss them in a bit of oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until soft and there are golden, caramelized edges.
Fluff the cooled quinoa with a fork and place into a large bowl. Add fennel, radishes, cucumber, dill and green onions. Add dijon, lemon juice and remaining olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Plate as you wish, garnished with the fennel fronds.