This easy roasted carrot salad came about from a need to use up some rainbow & orange carrots I had accumulated from other recipes. I wanted to roast chunks of carrots in apple cider. But once I started peeling the carrots, I just kept on peeling! These shavings and strips of carrot became “pasta-like” after roasting. What a fabulous texture for this delicious, healthy and colorful salad.
Shavings of carrots are roasted in a mustardy apple cider vinaigrette and combined with slices of tarragon & honey pickled beets, tangy red onion and apple cider soaked red quinoa. Don’t forget to sprinkle with lots of chopped, fresh dill!
I used a combination of rainbow carrots and orange carrots. The rainbow carrots really break up the monotony of orange. Just use your vegetable peeler to shave them into long strands and strips.
The carrots are naturally sweet, and roasting makes them sweeter. So I thought it was a good idea to compliment that sweetness with a pickled element. Since I just made a batch of Pickled Golden Beets with Tarragon & Honey, I decided to slice them up and add them to the carrots after cooking.
I used red quinoa for this salad to add a pop of color. And instead of cooking them in water, I cooked them in apple cider. The sweetness was actually subtle. And they added a perfect nutty chew to the mix. The marinade for roasting the carrots and the dressing for this salad are one and the same. Apple cider, cider vinegar, oil, grainy mustard, honey and dill keep these carrots sweet and tangy.
Quinoa is not actually a grain, but rather the edible seed of a grain like plant. It’s one of the only plant foods that’s a complete protein. It’s high in fiber, potassium, iron and vitamins. I just love the nutty flavor.
This salad really eats more like a pasta than a salad. The carrots are soft enough to twirl around your fork like a noodle; but with just enough bite in them to keep the texture fun. And of course those little pops of quinoa lend a nutty, crunchy element to this pretty salad.
This is a great salad to make when you have some extra carrots to use up. But there are many ways you can change it up. Here are some ideas on how to Make It Your Own:
- You can certainly use all regular orange carrots. Or you can use all rainbow carrots. Feel free to toss some parsnips into the mix.
- I used red quinoa. But you can also use white or black quinoa. You can also find quinoa trios and blends.
- Don’t have quinoa available? Use another grain such as millet, kamut, freekeh, bulgur, or farro, to name a few.
- What can you use instead of pickled beets? Pickled onions (even quick pickled onions), pickled carrots or any pickled vegetable would be great. Many markets I go to offer Love Beets brand of pickled beets in a variety of flavors. I use them a lot in my salads.
- The apple cider dressing is really easy to mix up. But you can also use your favorite store brand of oil & vinegar based salad dressings. A good balsamic vinaigrette would be terrific, too.
- When I cook with quinoa, I always like to give it a punch of flavor. Whether I toast it with spices before boiling it, or I add a flavored liquid in place of water, I always find it needs a little help. Toasting the quinoa with some apple pie spice before boiling it in water is another way to get some apple cider flavor into the mix.
- I think carrots and dill go well together, but you should use YOUR favorite herb.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 pounds of carrots, peeled and then shaved into long strips
- 1 cup of dry red quinoa
- 1 cup of apple cider
- 1 cup of water
- 3-4 Tablespoons of chopped red onion
- ½ cup of sliced pickled beets (see recipe for Pickled Golden Beets with Tarragon & Honey)
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ⅔ cup of apple cider
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons of coarse, grainy mustard
- 2 Tablespoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh dill (plus more for garnish)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt & pepper to taste
- Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and set ¼ cup aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss the carrot strands with all but the ¼ cup of reserved dressing.
- Transfer to a parchment lined roasting pan.
- Cook for 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under running water until the water runs clear.
- Drain the quinoa and place in a saucepan.
- Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of apple cider and a pinch of salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook, covered for about 15-20 minutes.
- Taste the quinoa near the end of the cooking time. If it is done to your liking, drain it. If not cook it a few minutes longer adding more water if necessary.
- Drain the quinoa and return it to the pan, off the heat, with the lid on.
- Fluff it with a fork before serving.
- Place the carrots, red onion, sliced beets and quinoa in a large serving bowl.
- Toss with the remaining ¼ cup of dressing.
- Garnish with more dill if desired.
All of my salads and dressings are just a starting place for your imagination. So feel free to add or swap ingredients and do what works for you!