We love this Party Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Quinoa, loaded with eggplant, corn, peppers and maple-balsamic dressing. Three sides in one colorful dish.
With so much going on here, this vegetarian salad would make a lovely summer meal on its own with a side of crusty bread. I typically make it, however, as a single side dish along with fish, chicken or meat. Think of it as three sides – grilled vegetables, quinoa and salad. I like to serve it in a large shallow bowl and set it on the table as a centre piece of sorts – so pretty!
The salad is very similar to another one of our recipes, Quinoa-Roasted Yam Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing. The difference is the grilled vegetables. I grill Japanese eggplant, corn and red peppers (I love the creaminess of the eggplant with the crunch of the corn), but zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus, for example, would work well too. You can either roast the sweet potatoes or grill them. Both options are included in the recipe. The maple balsamic dressing, a personal favorite, adds a deep, rich flavor with a bit of sweet and tang. Try to get the best Balsamic Vinegar you can – it can make a big difference.
Jenna, the other Kook (and vegetarian), always asks for this salad when she comes over for dinner. It’s her fave!
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes.
- Try any grilled vegetables you prefer.
- Substitute baby spinach for the salad greens.
- Use rice instead of quinoa.
- Make or buy your favorite salad dressing.
Make Ahead Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Quinoa
- All the components for this salad can be made ahead. You just need to assemble the parts and drizzle on the dressing before serving.
Party Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 2/3 cup water
- 1/5 tsp salt
- 6 cups greens
- 2 peppers, cored, quartered
- 2 japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise in half (or thirds if large)
- 2-3 ears corn on cob, husks removed
- 1 large sweet potato (or 2 smaller) - Optional
- drizzle, olive oil, Italian or Catalina dressing
- salt and pepper
- Garnish options: pea shoots, green onions, toasted nuts, goat cheese
- 1 1/2 tbsp good Balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/3 cup oil (or a bit more if you like the flavours less intense)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat grill to medium high.
- MAKE QUINOA: Place the rinsed Quinoa in a medium pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil. Set heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork. Cool.
- PREPARE VEGETABLES: Lay eggplant, peppers and corn on a pan covered in foil (for easy clean up). Drizzle with oil or salad dressing. Sprinkle with salt. For sweet potatoes, you can cook them in one of two ways: Option 1 - peel and dice, drizzle with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt, then roast for 15-20 minutes in 425F oven until lightly browned and soft. Option 2 - Pierce sweet potato in several places, microwave on high for about 4- 41/2 minutes. Then peel off skin, slice into 1/2 disks, spray with oil, then grill for a few minutes each side along with other vegetables.
- GRILL VEGETABLES: Spray vegetables lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Grill until tender and slightly charred, about 3 minutes per side. Corn will take and extra 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Remove corn kernels from husks by sliding a knife down the sides of each corn. Discard husks. Cut eggplant and peppers into bite size chunks.
- MAKE DRESSING: In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the first 5 dressing ingredients. Slowly add the oil while whisking until smoothly blended. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon).
- ASSEMBLE SALAD AND SERVE: In large shallow serving bowl, place greens and quinoa and mix together. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing on. Add corn, peppers, eggplant and sweet potato if using on top. Drizzle more dressing on the salad (you may not need all the dressing) and toss to combine all ingredients. Add garnishes as desired. Serve.
Other quinoa salad recipes you might like: