This fabulous Roasted Ratatouille Quinoa Salad is loaded with healthy veggies, makes a perfect side for any grilled or roasted entree!
I love to take classic dishes and reinvent them. Well to be fair, it's not really reinventing; let's just say it's more like giving them a set of brand new clothes! This delicious and healthy Roasted Ratatouille Quinoa Salad is a perfect example.
Traditionally a rustic French vegetable stew originating in Provence, ratatouille calls for a combination of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and eggplant. It's often served as a side, but can also be enjoyed as a vegetarian entree.
There are lots of variations of ratatouille in Provence, each family having their own unique recipe, so I took the liberty of coming up with yet another, a Roasted Ratatouille Quinoa Salad.
In my version, the veggies are drizzled with a bit of olive oil and roasted till sweet and slightly caramelized in the oven. I like to roast the eggplant in a separate pan as it takes a little bit longer to get tender. The roasting can be done early in the day, if desired, making this a perfect dish for those steamy summer scorchers when the last thing you want to do is crank up your oven at dinner time. The whole dish can be prepared early in the day, refrigerated and pulled out about an hour in advance or warmed slightly in the microwave.
For a surprise element, I keep the tomatoes fresh in my Roasted Ratatouille Quinoa Salad in lieu of roasting them with the other veggies. I use cherry tomatoes (in a variety of hues, if possible) and love the bright, pretty color they add along with their fresh, sweet flavor. They're simply halved and drained on paper towels for a few minutes to prevent sogginess.
Quinoa makes a delicious, healthy base...
I used quinoa as the base for my ratatouille as it's super healthy, high in protein and loaded with fiber and antioxidants. Quinoa is an ancient grain that's gained lots of popularity over the past ten years due to it's superior nutritional benefits.
I have to admit though, I wasn't super crazy about quinoa till I learned to cook it properly. It always seemed kind of soggy and heavy to me, so I was excited when I discovered a few simple steps that make all the difference in the world. Now quinoa is a frequent flyer here at The Café. In fact, I was so thrilled about the technique, I created a step-by-step tutorial called How to Cook perfect Quinoa.
Another wonderful thing about quinoa is that it's truly a blank palate, adapting well to a myriad of flavor combinations. You can just type "quinoa" in The Café search bar to see lots of examples. I've even use it in smoothies. It's undetectable but adds a great boost of protein!
This ratatouille inspired quinoa is a delicious addition to your repertoire. When quinoa is combined with the delicious roasted veggies, fresh cherry tomatoes, French herbs, lemon zest and a drizzle of Zoe's Copycat Dressing this is one fabulous salad!
The recipe makes a lot, but it warms up beautifully and is perfect for work/school lunches. Watch out though, if I was your co-worker and you brought this for lunch, I would be seriously trying to convince you to swap meals. Or even worse, feigning absentmindedness, when I grabbed your lunch instead of mine and enjoyed it before you even got to the lunchroom!
Café Tips for making this Roasted Ratatouille Quinoa Salad
- This salad is delicious served warm or at room temperature. It can be made in advance and refrigerated, but wait till just before serving to add tomatoes. Remove from refrigerator about an hour in advance or warm on half power in the microwave.
- Feel free to substitute other veggies in this recipe. Green beans would be wonderful, as would roasted squash, broccoli or cauliflower. Think of it as a recipe "template" and add whatever you like best and/or is freshest.
- You may have more of the Zoe's Copycat Dressing than you need with this recipe, but don't worry, it's wonderful on all kinds of salads!
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved (I like to use the small heirlooms in a variety of colors.)
- 1 medium eggplant cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 medium zucchini halved and cut into ½-inch slices
- 2 medium bell peppers cut into 2-inch pieces, or use 8-10 of the small mini peppers
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion halved and cut in small wedges
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 6 cups cooked quinoa (1 recipe of perfect cooked quinoa)
- Zoe's Copycat Dressing' see this recipe*
Preheat oven to 450˚F.
Combine herbes de Provence, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
Place several thickness of paper towels on a plate and top with tomatoes. Allow to drain while preparing rest of salad.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper extending over the edges.
Combine zucchini, peppers and onions on prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with ⅔ of the herb/salt mixture. Toss it with a spatula to coat veggies with oil and spices.
Place eggplant on the second prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining ⅓ of the herb/salt mixture. Toss to coat eggplant with oil and spices.
Place both pans in preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir gently. Return both pans to oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove pepper/onion pan and set aside to cool. Stir pan with eggplant and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
Combine cooked quinoa and roasted veggies in a large bowl. Add lemon zest and tomatoes. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing and stir gently. Serve and enjoy. Pass extra dressing at the table.
Nutritional information below does not include the Zoey's Copycat Dressing