olive oil

quinoa salad

This is one of my all time favourite party tricks. Yes, this salad. For those of you who are not that familiar with quinoa, it is a grain that is very high in protein, simply delicious and easy to make. It has a marvelous nutty flavour to it and it is tastier than most rice’s and healthier to serve. 

This salad is my go to salad when I have my vegetarian friends come over. When I make this salad I more often than not don't make meat, although you can serve it with pan-fried moist chicken breasts if you want. It’s beyond filling and decked out with so many flavours that it will leave you wanting more. It’s the salad I take with to a braai (South African barbecue) and impress everyone with, or it’s a great salad to make for lunch, work or to nibble on at home.

The amazing thing with this salad is that once you get the hang of it and its ingredients you can start playing around with what you add to it, making it your own symphony of flavours. 

Here is my version of this healthy, delicious and colourful salad! 

Serves: 5


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 butternut, medium, peeled and sliced
  • half a head of broccoli 
  • 1 red onion 
  • 1 baby red cabbage
  • 50g pine nuts 
  • 100g rocket 
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml water 
  • olive oil to dress the salad 
  • 40g parmesan cheese


Preheat your oven to 180℃

Place your peeled and sliced butternut on a roasting tray and drizzle it with olive oil. Making sure all the pieces are covered. If you do not want them to char, cover with foil (shiny side down) and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. 

While your butternut is roasting slice your red onion into rings. If you find it easier you can also slice it in half and slice half rings from there. Put the water and balsamic into a pot over a low heat. Put the onions in and let them simmer and reduce. It should take about half an hour depending on your heat for them to become sticky and be fully reduced. Once the onions have reduced set them aside. 

In another pot put your one-cup of quinoa to two cups boiling water and a pinch of salt. Make sure the water is boiled before adding it. Cook over a low to medium heat for 30 minutes. If the water disappears before 30 minutes just turn the heat off and put the lid of the pot on. The moisture and residual heat will continue to cook the quinoa. Don’t add more water. Keep an eye on it so that the bottom doesn't burn. At the 25-minute mark just lightly fluff the quinoa with a fork. If you give the quinoa a taste it should still have some crunch but not be too hard-al dente one could say. Once ready set aside. 

In a large bowl grate the broccoli head (tree top bits), the Parmesan cheese and the baby red cabbage. Once they are all in add the rocket to mixture. 

Place your pine nuts in a small pan and over a low heat. Make sure you tend to them and watch them. When roasting nuts they can go from zero to burnt in two seconds. just keep turning them until they are golden brown and toasted. 

Grab your butternut out of the oven and add to your salad bowl. Add your quinoa and balsamic onions. Salt and pepper the salad to taste. Give the salad a good mix and drizzle with a great olive oil. My favourite is Rio Largo olive oil and you can shop it here. Once everything is mixed in and the salad is dressed, sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

This salad is great served hot but just as delicious cold!