Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quinoa Salad with Radicchio, Rutabaga and Hazelnuts

A while ago, a friend pointed me towards a recipe in the New York Times that used farro and rutabaga.  I'm a huge fan of farro, I like to mix it in with rice to add texture, and love it in salads.  This was the perfect recipe for me to try since it incorporates a lot of flavors I already like, and a big new one, rutabagas.  I had been wary of them because I don't love sweet starchy vegetables; I am very particular about squashes and sweet potatoes.  But there are so many rutabaga enthusiasts out there!  Have you noticed this too, readers?

I decided it was time to try the rutabaga when last week, they were the answer to a question on Jeopardy! (a question to the answer?), and I found them at the farmer's market.  For a gathering of ladies to taste wines from Chile, I adapted the salad to use quinoa, a grain from the Andes, and added radicchio as a complement to the sweetness of the rutabaga.   This salad was really delicious and felt healthy and had a good variety of flavors and textures.

I recommend having a large sieve to make handling the quinoa infinitely easier.  If you don't have one, do not fret.  You will probably lose lots of grains in the rinsing, and hopefully you have a large metal bowl and very big pot for the steaming.  In the end it's worth it as the quinoa has a great fluffy yet crunchy texture.

Quinoa Salad with Radicchio, Rutabaga and Hazelnuts
Takes 1 hour
Makes 8 servings

1 medium to large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (not too large, as the farmer told me they get hard and fibrous)
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (1/2 of a large shallot)
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 head of radicchio, sliced thinly
1/2 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss rutabaga with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until rutabaga is very tender and browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pot.  Rinse quinoa in 5 washes of water, each time shaking it around in the bowl, letting it settle, and then cupping the quinoa while you let the water pour out.  The quinoa is often dusty (not usual dust, but its own powdery residue), and can sometimes have small stones in it.  This is a step which is very helpful with a a sieve.  When the water is boiling add quinoa and cook for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil and some pepper.

Drain the quinoa in a large seive (or very very carefully with the help of a large spoon.  Rinse with cold water.  Return the pot to the stove and fill with an inch of water, bring to a simmer, and balance the sieve of quinoa in the pot (so it isn't touching the bottom), cover with a kitchen towl and a lid, and steam for 10 minutes.  If you do not have a sieve, place the quinoa in a metal bowl in the simmering pot, cover with the towel and the pot with the lid, and steam for 10 minutes.  I had to use a roasting pan to fit our smallest metal mixing bowl!

Add the quinoa to the bowl with the salad dressing, and once it has cooled a little, add the radicchio, the rutabaga and the hazelnuts.  Mix together.  Taste and add vinegar, salt and pepper to your liking.

This salad keeps really well, the quinoa grains hold their texture and nothing gets too soggy.  But don't wait too long to eat it!


  1. Rads, I'm a little confused by the quinoa preparation. I've made quinoa a few times, and all I did was put it in water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for a while until all the water is absorbed. What is this rinsing and then returning to the pot in a sieve? Pourquoi?

    I'm intrigued by rutabaga. I don't think I've ever had it!

  2. Hey Maggie, that's how I've always made quinoa as well, but I was looking at a couple of recipes that said to do it this way with the final steam, and it came out really well. Maybe I will have a head to head comparison soon and report back.

    For this recipe, if you are making one and a half cups of quinoa, then I would suggest using 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

  3. Also, I found this comment on on why the rinsing is necessary:

    Quinoa is coated with a natural substance called saponin that protects the grain by repelling insects and birds. Rinsing the quinoa is important to avoid a raw or bitter taste. You can tell if there is saponin by the production of a soapy looking "suds" when the seeds are swished in water.

  4. this looks yummy, I need to see if I like rutabaga -- they are suspiciously like turnips, so need to see if I like them (since I hate turnips)!

  5. It was so good george! And this is small doses of the rutabaga. Rutabagas don't taste like turnips, they smell a little like them when they are raw, but the flavor is way more mellow, like a sweet potato, but with its own distinctive accent. And roasting it probably brings out the sweetness even more.

  6. I tried this recipe a week or two ago, and it was dee-lish! I added a little bit of cumin to the marinade for the rutabagas prior to roasting, and I liked the little extra spice it gave.