Roasted Spiced Carrot and Quinoa Salad

<img alt="roasted spicy carrot and quinoa salad"/>

Sometimes when I’m at the market, I come across bags of brightly colored carrots — carrots in a deep burgundy and cheerful yellow nestled with the expected orange.  Once in a while there are a few  very pale yellow carrots in the mix as well, but the burgundies are what I think most striking.  Once sliced the rich, dark tone of the exterior rings the brighter orange in the center.  I can’t resist them when I see them simply because they’re beautiful.

I begin to think about what I might make with them as I add them to my basket, remembering that in past experiences I’ve been disappointed to find that when peeled — especially the dark ones — the beautiful color goes with the peelings.  Or when put into something braised, the color dissipates in the cooking liquid.  Such is the life of someone who not only enjoys food for its flavor and nutritional value (or lack thereof from time to time), but for its innate beauty.  It’s all a bit like taking time to smell the flowers so to speak.  Appreciate the small things in life which are easily unrecognized if — as in the example of these carrots — one always grabs the bag of tiny already peeled baby carrots.

Go ahead.  Call me silly.

No, these beauties were destined for the perfect recipe — one I’d seen in Food & Wine and tagged immediately.   I love quinoa and couldn’t resist the blend of spices in the recipe that would go fabulously with the roasted carrots and some dark, leafy greens.

First, peel the carrots lightly — or maybe you’re someone who just gives them a good scrub with a veggie brush.  I don’t like the bitter taste of the peelings, but maybe it’s my imagination.  I eat peelings on just about everything except carrots.

<img alt="colorful carrots"/>

<img alt="colorful carrots"/>

After you peel the carrots, split them down the center, then quarter them.  Some may need another cut to even the pieces out.

<img alt="spices for roasted carrot salad"/>

This is the part where it pays off to have all the spices on hand a recipe like this calls for.  The aroma is heavenly, and the mix of color so beautiful.

<img alt="colorful spicy carrots and onions"/>

The carrots are tossed in a bit of olive oil and a portion of the blended spices.  Sliced red onions are added to roast at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, tossing the mix once or twice during the baking time.

I thought both red and black quinoa would look attractive with the colorful carrots.

<img alt="spiced red and black quinoa"/>

Another portion of the spice blend is mixed in with the quinoa before cooking.

Water is added to the quinoa and spices and cooked until all the liquid has been absorbed.  You’ll have to check it occasionally and stir a bit to make sure it’s cooking steadily.  It will take about 20 minutes at most.

<img alt="roasted spicy carrots"/>

The carrots and onions smell so good when they’re roasting.  When they’re finished, just set them aside to cool down while you finish making the rest of the salad.

<img alt="super greens for salad"/>

I like to buy big packages of a mixture of spinach and baby kale because it comes in so handy for salads or any other way I’d like to use it.  The greens are very tender and packed with so many nutrients your body will thank you for.  I used several large handfuls for this salad.

The greens are tossed first with a bit of lime juice and extra virgin olive oil.  You can season lightly with salt and pepper if you like, but there will be seasoning in the other parts of the salad as well.  I always toss my greens in a bowl separately before I decide whether I’m going to plate the entire salad, or portion them out separately.  It depends…

<img alt="lemon mustard vinaigrette"/>

Then a dressing for the quinoa and other ingredients is made with lime juice, mustard, and some of the remaining spice mix that was used for the carrots and quinoa.

The dressing is added to the cooked quinoa and dried cranberries are mixed in.  Aren’t the colors beautiful?  I love this salad!  Spoon the quinoa mixture over the greens…

<img alt="roasted spicy carrot and quinoa salad"/>

…then layer the spicy roasted carrots over the quinoa.  Toasted walnuts finish the salad.  I’m hungry for it all over again just looking at it!  It’s sweet and spicy, crunchy and refreshing.  I enjoyed mine by myself because the hubster was working late, so I had time to mull over the color and flavor of everything wondering what he’d think when he got home.

<img alt="roasted spicy carrot and quinoa salad"/>

It kept quite nicely at room temperature covered with plastic.  In fact, there was too much for the two of us for dinner, so I was able to enjoy the rest the next day for lunch.  Delicious.


Roasted Spiced Carrot and Quinoa Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This salad is full of aromatic spices and packed with nutrients. It's a perfect meal by itself.
Recipe type: Salad, Vegan, Gluten-free
Serves: 4
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. cayenne
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 lg. carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thin
  • 7 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c. walnuts, toasted
  • ½ c. red quinoa
  • ½ c. black quinoa
  • 2 c. water
  • juice of 1 lime, divided in half
  • 4 c. mixed dark leafy greens
  • 1 tsp. Dijon
  • ½ c. dried cranberries
  • 2 T. chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix the paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and allspice with 1 tsp. of salt, and 1 tsp. of black pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine them.
  3. Place the carrots and onions on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with 2 T of olive oil, then sprinkle with 1 T of the spice mix. Toss around a bit to coat the vegetables well.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time, until tender.
  5. Prepare the quinoa by mixing it with 2 T of the spice mix and the water in a medium sauce pan.
  6. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer to continue cooking until all the moisture is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. After the quinoa is started, coarsely chop the walnuts and put them in a skillet in the oven along with the carrots to roast for 5 minutes -- just until golden.
  8. Prepare the greens by adding 2 T of the olive oil and the juice of ½ lime seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper to a large bowl. Whisk until blended, then add the greens and lightly toss with the lemon and oil mixture.
  9. Divide greens evenly among separate plates, or arrange on a single large platter according to your desire.
  10. In the same large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 T olive oil, the juice of the remaining ½ lime, Dijon, and 1 T of the spice mix. Add the quinoa and cranberries and toss lightly to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Spoon the quinoa mixture over the plated greens, then arrange the roasted carrots and onions.
  12. Sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and finish with the chopped cilantro.


 Recipe Notes

  • The original recipe by Anna Zepaltas can be found here at Food & Wine.  My changes were primarily to use lime juice instead of lemon, cilantro instead of parsley, allspice instead of cardamom, and to add the black quinoa to the mix.  I like cilantro and lime and thought the combination would be great in this salad.
  • This was a great dinner salad and as much as my husband pretty much eats whatever I prepare — whether it contains meat or not — some nights, he still wants something more.  This was one of those nights.  But it was perfect for me.
  • I think a perfect addition to this salad — or substitution — would be sweet potatoes or butternut squash.  Both would work well with the spices and greens and perhaps be a bit more filling to my husband who will help himself to a bowl of cereal after dinner if he isn’t completely satisfied.
  • You should have some of the spice mixture left over — I think I may try it in some butternut squash soup — but it would taste wonderful on so many different things.



Baked Apple Dumplings with Sweet Browned Butter Sauce

<img alt="Apple Dumplings with Sweet Browned Butter Sauce from Sass & Veracity"/>

I think the first time I tried to make an apple dumpling I was about 26, give or take a year. I don’t remember cooking much during that particular time in my life, but what I did cook has stayed with me — for better or worse.  A successful pot of chili verde qualifies as one of my better accomplishments, and apple dumplings one of my worst.

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Visiting Virginia: Almond Pecan Walnut Pancakes

<img alt="Honeycrisp Apples"/>

I’ve been back from my trip East for a couple of weeks now and think I’ve finally caught up with sleep and processed all my memories along with the more than 500 photos I took.  It’s a relaxing task to process photos after a trip and I find myself grinning like a sap as I work, time passing much more quickly than I’d like.  Laundry, dishes, and other chores are waiting, but to be so engrossed in a task that little else interferes with is a good thing — something that confirms I enjoy what I’m doing.  It helps when the photos I’m processing are of good things as well:  lovely places, good times with people I care about, and great food, of course.

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Spice-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with Radicchio and Balsamic Vinegar

I made it back from my trip to the East Coast safe and sound and will share my experience after it settles and I’ve had time to savor it all.   In the meantime, I have many recipes to share and ideas for more.  I guess there’s nothing quite like time away to clear my mind and realize again that inspiration lies in unexpected places.  I need time to process that as well which makes me envious of those of you who can seize an idea in no time and move to the next while I’m still mulling over the inkling of my first.  It’s a good thing I enjoy process, I suppose.  What is it they say about the sum of parts being greater than the whole?

That would be me.

Speaking of parts, today a book caught my eye that comes as close to my philosophy about food as I’ve seen.  It’s called Culinary Intelligence:  The Art of Eating Healthy and Really Well.  And no, this isn’t a review, because I haven’t read it yet.  But Barry Esterbrook’s review provides me enough information to agree that flavor above all else is what helped me lose weight earlier this year.  Good, fresh ingredients with excellent flavor always work for me.  Long after I’ve enjoyed something tasty, I think about it and realize the satisfaction of a good meal without having to ingest portions well beyond what someone of my age and size should — or anyone for that matter — is perfect.  Cost comes up in this matter, and it should.  My family roots are meager at best, and so the cost of anything will never be taken lightly.  But I’ve learned that when something is just right, when it satisfies without over indulgence, the memory lingers without having to deal with a full stomach.

It sounds like I’m selling something and that isn’t the case.  I just love it when I find a perspective that makes me feel as if I’m not alone.  Doesn’t everyone?

With that in mind, this recipe for Spice-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with Radicchio and Balsamic Vinegar is so very good.  It’s not a challenge to prepare if you spend some time ahead to prepare the pork — but that’s the best kind of recipe.  Do a bit ahead of time for enjoyment later.

And if you’re not familiar with radicchio, then know that it has a lovely bitter taste to it.  I enjoy bitter “greens” quite a bit, but understand that others don’t.  I usually enjoy radicchio in salads — it adds a different flavor and color.  But if you’re not sure, then use red cabbage instead.  The flavor will not disappoint.

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Apple Tart Alsatian Style

You’ve promised your body that you will adopt a healthier lifestyle — something just shy of a “diet” because you know yourself too well.  If what you’ve taken on is reduced to that, it’s probably not going to last because you don’t believe in diets — and for good reason.  You’ve seen too many people begin with all the motivation they can muster, then when they realize the pounds aren’t falling off as quickly as they’d like, or that after what is considered a good effort, they’ve plateaued, motivation dwindles and the “diet” is quietly ignored.  I can’t risk that because my knees will never forgive me for having to carry around 50 pounds they hadn’t counted on at their age.

Poor knees.

Last September when I began to think about more obsessively about my weight and lack of routine exercise (no coincidence since I’d just turned 55) I began to find reasons to avoid the kitchen.  Meals became food I could easily pick up and eat with little or no thought.  I stopped looking at new recipes and rarely used one to try something new for dinner.  And baking?  I stopped that almost completely because it seemed pointless to bake something, taste it, then try to find a home for it outside of mine.  I’ve never been a big sweets eater, but I thoroughly enjoy spending a morning in the kitchen baking something — especially if it involves a little thought or teaches me something new.  I miss that and know baking needs to be a part of my life — as does dessert.

Dessert is a food group, isn’t it?

I’m kidding, of course, but the point is I want to bake and enjoy dessert occasionally so have to find a balance with desserts that showcase a simple fruit without a lot of added sugar or an excessive amount of fat, for example.

Something classic, satisfying.  Elegant, but not fussy.

With apples.

Glorious apples.

Just a small slice?

Yes, please.

Continue reading Apple Tart Alsatian Style