I think a lot of times I get hung up on thinking that Thanksgiving & Christmas are times for indulgence as much as they are about being grateful and spending time with my loved ones. I’m all for going along with traditions, but sometimes I also think there is a place for new traditions to be made.
At my house we like to experiment with new recipes and we even have a yearly informal recipe contest. Along the way we’ve found some new recipes that we just love and the stories of their origin become part of the bigger story. If you couldn’t tell, we take the Holidays very seriously.
I think there is a place on the table for a non-traditional sort of recipe, like this Roasted Carrot Quinoa Salad. It’s a salad, yes, but it’s incredibly hearty. And if you’re leaning towards giving your Holiday menu a little healthy revamp, this would be a great side to add to the list.I was sort of channeling Ottolenghi when I was putting this salad together.
There’s a hint of earthy, spicy cumin and coriander in the fresh lemon vinaigrette. The pomegranate arils add a sweet, vibrant burst with every bite. The carrots become tender and caramelized in the oven. The protein-rich quinoa makes it hearty and filling. And of course, golden raisins add a hint of sweetness and the sliced almonds add the perfect crunch.
This is a truly well-balanced and hearty salad that can sit along side all the super flavorful and rich food of the Holidays.
Make Ahead Salad Recipe
This salad can be made several days in advance. However, it should be dressed just before serving. Also, add the spinach right before serving, as spinach is pretty tender and wilts easily.
Leftovers will keep for several days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Variations on Carrot Quinoa Salad
If roasted carrots are not your jam, butternut squash or honeynut squash can stand in for the carrots. Same for the quinoa, if it is not your grain of choice you can use bulghur as a replacement.
I found some gorgeous heirloom red spinach that is pictured in the recipe here, but any of your favorite leafy greens would work perfectly.
What must-have sides are always on your Holiday table? Or do you like to mix it up and try new recipes?
Harvest Carrot Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound rainbow carrots about 5-6, peeled, sliced into ¼" rounds
- 4 ounces fresh spinach I used red heirloom
- ½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well. Transfer to a 2 quart pan and add the vegetable broth. Bring just to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, toss carrots with the 2 teaspoons olive oil. Place on prepared baking sheet. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- In a large serving bowl, toss spinach with the cooked quinoa. Top with the roasted carrots, pomegranate, chopped seeds, and raisins.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and gently toss. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge. To keep longer or make in advance, do not add the vinaigrette until ready to serve.