Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 16: Pax Romana’s Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing

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This is part 2 of a feature on my delicious experience with Chef Cristian Pettita at Pax Romana in White Plains, New York. You can find part 1 here.

No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe.

Pax Romana's Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing: No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe. #BigFlavorsFromARestaurantKitchen

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.

Pax Romana's Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing: No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe. #BigFlavorsFromARestaurantKitchen

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.

Big Flavors from a Restaurant Kitchen Volume 15: Pax Romana - This installment features a new favorite local Italian restaurant + Q&A with Chef Cristian Petitta, who is bringing the best of each region of his native Italy to Westchester County, New York.

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!

Pax Romana's Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing: No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe. #BigFlavorsFromARestaurantKitchen

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!

Pax Romana's Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing: No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe. #BigFlavorsFromARestaurantKitchen

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.

Pax Romana’s Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing

Makes 4 Servings

Pax Romana’s Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing

No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 large oranges, divided (1 zested and juiced, and 1 peeled and cut into segments)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Micro or baby arugula
Thin slices of candy cane beet (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring the quinoa, vegetable stock, and 1 pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Once done, drain in mesh strainer, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the red onion. Cook until it softens and the aroma mellows, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini, and red bell pepper, and continue cooking for about 2-4 minutes longer. You want your vegetables crunchy and not too cooked! Season with salt and pepper. Put the vegetables in a tray and let them cool down.
  3. For the dressing add the zest and juice of 1 orange to the bowl of a food processor. Add mustard, vinegar, and honey. Turn on the food processor and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil through the feed chute while the motor is running to combine. The dressing should have a nice consistency not too thick not too thin.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, vegetables, and all but 1/4 cup of the orange dressing. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Serve chilled salad with crumbled goat cheese, orange segments, and some micro arugula on top. Drizzle with reserved dressing.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Chef Cristian Pettita of Pax Romana.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

https://bigflavorstinykitchen.com/quinoa-salad-mixed-vegetable-goat-cheese-orange-dressing/

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Pax Romana's Quinoa Salad with Mixed Vegetable, Goat Cheese & Orange Dressing: No more boring quinoa salad recipes! Fresh orange zest and juice go into the bold, bright vinaigrette for this beautifully plated restaurant recipe. #BigFlavorsFromARestaurantKitchen