Cooking is an art. Yes, sometimes, or oftentimes, we cook just to get some food on a plate. But, developing recipes that excite takes creativity. So when you want to whip up something to stimulate your palate, it's helpful to pick one interesting ingredient that drives the rest of the dish. That's exactly how this quinoa recipe came to be. I knew I wanted to make a quinoa salad, but quinoa is such a blank canvas, and I was feeling completely uninspired. I felt like I had writer's block, except instead of staring at an empty screen, I was staring at an empty counter-top. But this salad wasn’t going to make itself, so I needed to find my muse, for lack of a better word.

To get my creative juices flowing I started thinking of ingredients that I love, and the peppadew pepper came to mind. If you don’t know what a peppadew pepper is, you’re probably not alone. However, you should get to know them, love them, and use them because they are delicious. They’re the perfect mix of spicy, tart, and sweet. I get mine from the antipasti salad bar at Whole Foods and always make sure to load up on the pickling liquid. It not only keeps the peppers from drying out, but it also serves as a delicious base for salad dressing. (which you will see shortly!)

Once I committed to the peppadews I had to come up with the rest, so I thought about 3 things: color, flavor, and texture. We eat with our eyes first so the colors should be appealing and inviting. Of course, the flavors have to taste good together. And finally, there should be textural variation. You'd be surprised how a little bit of crunch factor can make a big difference to a dish. So grab some peppadews (and the rest of the ingredients below) and enjoy your some healthy quinoa goodness.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2-4)

Salad:

  • 2 cup cooked white quinoa
  • 1 cup roasted cauliflower (see ingredients below)
  • 1/2 cup or 1 ear steamed corn cut off the cob
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped peppadew peppers
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach 

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tbsp pickling liquid
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Roasted Cauliflower:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bit sized florets
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the roasted cauliflower, preheat the oven to 400° F. Cover cauliflower florets in oil and salt and roast on baking sheet for 50 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and slightly browned.
  2. Combine salad ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Dress salad just before serving.

A FEW NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE:

  • If you don’t have a supermarket that sells peppadew peppers, you can order them online here
  • If you buy packaged quinoa, you can generally find cooking instructions on the package. If you’re buying your quinoa in bulk and don’t know how to cook it, the general rule is 2 parts cooking liquid to 1 part dry quinoa. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover for about 15 minutes until water has been absorbed into the quinoa.
  • Yes, you can use canned corn, but I find fresh corn much tastier and crunchier. It’s summer – might as well enjoy the fresh corn while it’s in season. We have all of winter to use the canned stuff!
  • Like always, all palates are different. For me, salt and pepper to taste came to 1/4 tsp of salt and 2 or 3 turns on my pepper grinder.

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