Monday, November 12, 2012

Roasted Parsnip-Quinoa Salad with Shallot-Lemon Dressing

Quinoa is all the rage these days, but it's not universally loved, as The Washington Post recently wrote about. I'll admit to finding the healthful grain a bit dull sometimes, but I was determined to find a way to make it shine for Thanksgiving dinner.

The flavor of quinoa ranges from almost nothing to a bit bitter. It's biggest selling point is its texture: adding a bit of crunch. To play off its strengths and make up for its weaknesses I wanted a dish where its blandness would be outweighed by richer savory and sweet flavors, but its texture would provide a welcome counterpoint.

I hit on parsnips as the perfect vegetable counterpoint. Although far less popular than its root vegetables cousins the potato and the carrot, parsnips can hold their own even in a dessert. Let's be honest: they're awful raw, but roasted until they start to brown and they develop a nice toasty sweetness. Playing up the sweet and the crunch, I also tossed in dried cranberries and chopped pistachios. To pull the flavors together with something sharp, I created a lemon-shallot vinaigrette.

This dish is attractive and tasty and, as a cool dish, lends some nice variety to meal dominated by hot sides.

Roasted Parsnip-Quinoa Salad with Shallot-Lemon Dressing

2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2-4 tbsp. olive oil
Seasoned salt
1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tbsp. minced shallot
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread parsnips on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and seasoned salt and roast until the parsnips are cooked through and browned on some sides, about 30 to 40 minutes (stir with a spatula halfway through). Allow to cool.

2. Put quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse, then submerge in water and soak for 15 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil, add quinoa, cover pan, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered, allowing quinoa to rest another 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Allow to cool.

3. Make dressing by whisking together shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

4. In a large bowl, combined roasted parsnips, cooked quinoa, chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. Add dressing and toss to combine. Serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.

Roast parsnips 30-40 minutes at 400
Rinse quinoa then soak for 15 minutes. Drain. Bring 1 cup water to boil, add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes more.

1 comment:

  1. For me, this was the sleeper hit of our early Thanksgiving dinner. The fact that it's cool made it stand out, and the parsnips really enlivened the quinoa.