Quinoa Salad with sweet potatoes and apples


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 tsp. (or to taste) agave
2 large Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 packed cups herb salad or baby greens, such as arugula or kale (about 6 ounces)

Adapted from Food & Wine, November 2012 issue.

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the quinoa and toast over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until golden and softened. Let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar and if desired, add agave to cut the acidity; season with salt and pepper. Add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, onions, and greens and toss well. Serve right away.

You can make the quinoa and sweet potatoes ahead; they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

I’ve served this a couple of times, once with baby argula for the greens and another with a ready-to-go herb salad that had various kinds of baby greens as well as fresh dill. Either way, folks liked this salad for its contrasting textures — crunchy tart apples, gently sweet potatoes, red and somewhat sweet but still oniony bermuda onion, and the slightly crunchy quinoa. In many ways this is a complete dish: veggies, carbos, protein.

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