Rather recently, I was talking to the man in my life about how my day went, happenings, the 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 whole grains kicking around and B) 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. Grilled fennel, fresh dill, crunchy cucumbers, spicy radishes and a healthy dose of lemon… it’s a great combo. And the fennel loses a bit of its liquorice taste once caramelized. It’s a bit softer and just really nice! If you’re on the fence about fennel, I’d urge you to try it this way.
In addition to this grilled fennel and quinoa salad, I have lots of other great quinoa recipes if you’re looking to use some up: quinoa onion rings, pesto quinoa and white bean bake, stuffed squash with broccoli rabe and quinoa, and sweet potato quinoa cakes to name a few.
With this recipe, the 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 cooked grain and vegetables, and then I mix it all up together. Once you get the pre-soaking of the quinoa thing down, you’re off and running with this grilled fennel and quinoa salad.
GRILLED FENNEL & QUINOA CRUNCH SALAD
- ¾ cup quinoa, soaked & drained
- 1½ cups water
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small bulb of fennel, halved and core removed save some of the fronds for garnish
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling/roasting
- 4 radishes, halved and sliced thin
- ½ of an english cucumber, small dice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup toasted and chopped nuts or seeds (optional)
- Cook the quinoa: combine quinoa with the 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 to cool.
- IF ROASTING THE FENNEL: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. IF GRILLING THE FENNEL: Preheat your grill to high.
- Grill the fennel: brush the halved fennel with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place onto the grill, cut side down. Grill until char marks are achieved on both sides and fennel feels a bit soft, about 4-5 minutes per side.
- Remove the fennel from the grill and cut into a rough small dice. 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 grilled and chopped fennel, radishes, cucumber, dill and green onions. Add dijon, lemon juice and the 3 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Season liberally with salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Garnished with the toasted nuts/seeds (if using) and reserved fennel fronds if you like.
- This recipe serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side.
- I soak quinoa for about 15 minutes before I drain and cook, just to get some of the bitterness off of the exterior of the grains.
- Also, you’re just grilling the fennel to soften it up a bit and get some char happening. There are instructions for roasting in the recipe as well.