This is an Italian inspired Sun-Dried Tomato Fennel Quinoa Salad. It would be perfect along side of any Italian main course or it’s great as a meal all its own. It has rich tomato flavors from the sun-dried tomato champagne vinaigrette and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. The roasted peppers and basil add depth and there is the perfect crunch from the fennel, yellow peppers and red onion.
I made this salad with a beach picnic in mind. Our friends were coming down for the day, so I put together an array of food. We enjoyed it with a little white wine! Sometimes, I like to warm it up when it is cold outside or I will often top it with some kale or arugula.
8 – 10 side servings
- 1 1/2 Cup Tri Colored Quinoa
- 3 Cups Filtered Water
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic -whole
- 3/4 Teaspoon
Sun-Dried Tomato Champagne Vinaigrette – Approx. 1 1/4 cups
- 1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes (not the oil packed kind, or you can drain the oil)
- 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Champagne Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Filtered Water – or more if desired
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 2 Small Cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 Shallot (about 1/4 cup) – minced
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- Dash Black Pepper
- 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – thinly sliced
- 1 Red Bell Peppers — roasted – deseed – destemmed – diced
- 1/2 Red Onion – thinly sliced
- 1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil or to taste – chiffonade
- 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced
- 1 Cup Aged Asiago – finely shredded – packed
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Quinoa – (can be made the day ahead)
First, make the sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. (you can do this the day before if you want)
Measure the quinoa and put into a small pot, then mince the garlic and add along with olive oil, water and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Bring the quinoa to a boil, then cover the pot, turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from burner and let sit with the lid on for 5 more minutes, I recommend using a timer.
When quinoa is finished, scoop it into a shallow bowl or large plate and put in the refrigerator to cool.
Vinaigrette – (can be made the day ahead)
Mince the shallot and set aside. In a food processor or blender, add the minced the garlic (or use a garlic press), juice the lemon with a hand-held lemon juicer. Measure all the other ingredients and puree until smooth. Stir in the shallots.
Roast peppers of your choice on the stovetop on medium-high heat. A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs. When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char. It’s ok to leave a little of the char. Remove the stem and seeds, dice, then add to a separate large bowl.
Cut the stalks off of the fennel bulb, then cut the bulb in half, then cut out the core. Slice each half in half and then slice as thin as you can. Add to the peppers.
Add the diced onions, minced the sun-dried tomatoes, minced red cabbage, chiffonade basil, shredded asiago and add to the peppers and fennel.
Mix in the salt and quinoa. You can mix in the vinaigrette or top onto individual salads.
Quinoa is a super food that is extremely nutrient rich as well as it is a complete protein source and high in fiber, which helps digestion and heart health. It contains more antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients than any other grain. Unlike most grains, quinoa has a significant amount of gamma-tocopherol of the vitamin E family, which helps some inflammatory issues. It is a good source of magnesium that helps metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function, which is helpful for migraine headaches. Quinoa contains the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol even more than in cranberries. It is helpful in regulation of blood sugar and also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes are very high in antioxidants; just one cup has 23 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 16 percent of vitamin A. The Vitamin C in dried tomatoes helps your body absorb the high iron content as well. They are high in potassium which helps prevent and lower high blood pressure. These tomatoes are very high in dietary fiber compared to raw tomatoes.
Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood. The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation. It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration. There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain. The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.