No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe.
Quinoa is an ingredient that people tend to feel very strongly about. I happen to enjoy the versatility of quinoa as an ingredient, and like using it as a way to change up our standard grain side dishes.
And it doesn’t have to be plain ol’ quinoa – it can be dressed up a million ways!
Chef Cristian showed me how he makes this gorgeously elegant quinoa salad recipe in his restaurant kitchen, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to put together! Honestly, prepping the ingredients probably takes the longest, and even that is pretty minimal.
You can chop the veggies while the quinoa cooks and cools. He used white quinoa at the restaurant, but I had a partial bag of red quinoa at home, so I opted for that. I actually really liked the color that it added to the dish.
The fresh orange juice and zest blend together to make a bright, vibrant dressing. Make sure you season it with plenty of salt and pepper to really make the flavors pop.
You can even make this dish ahead of time, reserving a little of the dressing on the side for drizzling, and just garnish it with the greens, cheese, and orange segments when you’re ready to serve it.
When he plated it up (oh.so.gorgeously), he added some beautiful micro greens and thin slices of candy cane beet for garnish. I find those at the farmers market sometimes, and would definitely recommend using them to make this dish look even fancier.
I had some baby arugula in the fridge, so I scattered that on top and think it turned out just fine!
The other thing that he used to ensure a beautiful presentation was a ring mold. Use your spoon to really press the salad down in there so it holds its shape before removing it from the plate.
There are tons of options online if you’re looking for one (or a whole set). They have many uses in the kitchen – for plating, cookie and biscuit making, and shaping things like eggs and pancakes. He also used some kitchen tweezer/food tongs to really help place everything precisely.
It was a real work of art!
All these plating techniques definitely elevate this dish, but it would be equally delicious in a more free-form, rustic presentation (read: on a plate or in a bowl with garnishes piled up on top).
Any way you make it, this dish comes out beautifully. I made most of it early in the day, then just plated it and added the finishing touches at dinner time. It makes a perfect light lunch or as a starter or side dish to a larger meal.
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