There isn’t a whole lot to say about this dish other than, it was devoured. I’m not even kidding, I had to hurry to take the photos before inhaling it all. We all have different opinions of what is delicious, but if you like the flavor of rich balsamic vinegar, you will inhale this too!
I created this amazing, rich, sweet and slightly spicy reduction to drizzle over hearty vegetables. The chili powder gives a nice depth of heat, while the balsamic reduction is a nice sweet contrast. It is so filling, it is hardly a salad!
Warning though…you will be back for seconds and maybe even thirds. I sure was. It is packed full of nutrients, protein and healthy fats, so no need to feel guilty either! It makes a beautiful presentation as well for your guests.
Note: This is a recipe I wrote before starting The Vegan 8 blog (formally on my old blog, The Healthy Flavor), so it is more than 8 ingredients, but definitely one of my favorite recipes to date.
Sweet Heat Quinoa Salad With Balsamic Reduction
Quinoa and Veggies
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder smoked paprika, chili powder & sea salt
- 3 heaping cups sweet potatoes cut in bite size chunks
- 1 medium zucchini diced similar size as potatoes
- 1 avocado sliced
- Few cups of spinach as a bed for the vegetables
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil for oil-free, just simply roast them without any oil on parchment paper
Balsamic Reduction(Sauce reduces down quite a bit, so double the ingredients if serving multiple people)
- 1/4 cup dark balsamic vinegar I used Alessi Balsamic Vinegar, because it contains red wine vinegar and grape musts. Make sure to use a quality balsamic, it WILL make a difference
- 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano garlic powder & dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
NOTE: For oil-free, just roast the vegetables without any oil!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, prepare the quinoa. Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt to a medium pot, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
- While the quinoa is cooking, roast the vegetables. Dice the sweet potatoes and zucchini in bite size chunks and place them on two separate cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil (if using) on the sweet potatoes, massage with hands and season with salt and pepper. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper as well. Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes and then turn to broil just to brown and crisp the tops just for a couple of minutes. Watch closely so they don't burn. Bake the zucchini for 10 minutes and turn to broil the tops as well.
- Directions for the balsamic reduction:
- Add all of the ingredients into a small pot and whisk well. Turn to the lowest heat setting and let the sauce cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you want it. If you are doubling the recipe, it may take a bit longer to reduce and become thick. It is incredibly easy, you don't need to stand over the stove...just stir it every now and then to make sure it's not sticking to the sides or bottom of the pan. Once it reaches your desired thickness, and taste, turn off the heat. That's it! Easy as pie!
- Tip: This has an intense, rich flavor so if you prefer a less tart taste from the vinegar, just whisk in a bit of water at the end to dilute it a bit. Keep in mind, the longer you cook it, the thicker it becomes, producing a more intense flavor.
- Make a bed on a large platter with the spinach. Add the quinoa, cooked vegetables, sliced avocado and drizzle all over with the balsamic reduction. Or, if you are not serving a whole platter, just serve each individual plate with the vegetables and drizzle as much sauce as desired.