I first tried this salad a couple of months ago at my favourite café/restaurant, The Sorrento Beach Shack at Hillarys Boat Harbour, while celebrating a friend’s birthday. They have a fantastic gluten free menu and all the staff are very friendly and accommodating. This salad was so tasty and flavoursome, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I knew that I definitely wanted to try to recreate this salad at home. There is a little bit of prep work, but nothing too hard.
You can of course, add more red onion, feta or walnuts if you choose, its up to your own personal tastes. There will also be spare dressing leftover, so cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate to use it for another time.
Makes 2 large bowls
88g (3.1 ounces or ½ cup) quinoa grain
1 medium beetroot
1 large red capsicum
80g (2.8 ounces or 2 firmly packed cups) baby spinach leaves
Red onion thinly sliced, to taste
2 small handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
56g (2.0 ounces) almond feta cheese, cut into cubes, divided
60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
60ml (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons (10ml) light muscovado sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) freshly minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a small tray with foil and then place a piece of baking paper/parchment over the top. This helps to protect the tray from any juices that may leak out while cooking.
I make the dressing first to let the flavours develop while everything else is cooking. Simply add all the dressing ingredients together in a jug and give a whisk to combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until required.
Thoroughly wash the capsicum and beetroot. However, do not trim the root or the stem of the beetroot, otherwise you will have pink juices leaking out! Then wrap it in foil. Place the capsicum on the tray with the foil wrapped beetroot and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes, turning the capsicum over at about the 20 minute mark.
While the vegetables are in the oven, make a start on cooking the quinoa. Rinse and drain the quinoa using a fine mesh strainer, as this will remove the bitter saponin coating. Place the rinsed quinoa in a small pot and pour over the water. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork and then transfer to a bowl and allow it to cool completely.
The capsicum is fully roasted when the skin is charred and soft and it has slightly collapsed. Place the cooked capsicum into a small glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it to steam for about 12-15 minutes. The steam will make it easier to remove the skin. Once the capsicum has steamed it is now time to remove the skin and the seeds. Using kitchen paper makes it easier to remove the seeds and excess moisture from the capsicum. Now slice into thin stirps. Set aside and allow it to cool.
The beetroot takes a little longer to cook, when a skewer can easily pierce through the flesh then it is fully cooked through. Allow it to cool enough to handle, although it must still be warm to make the peeling easier. Try to wear disposable gloves when peeling, as this will avoid staining of your hands. Chop the beetroot into small bite-sized cubes and set aside to allow it to cool.
To assemble the salad, add all the ingredients to a large bowl, EXCEPT the almond feta cheese. Give the dressing a good whisk before pouring into the salad, starting off with 3-4 tablespoons and then gently toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing if desired.
Divide the salad between two bowls and then scatter over the almond feta cheese.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 320F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8