Grains and grill roasted winter vegetable salads are some of my favorite comfort foods for fall – no matter what type of grains or winter veg. This is a lovely stand alone side dish for a holiday table, but add a grilled chicken breast or pork chop and you have yourself a meal.
I really enjoy grill roasting wintervegetables because the flavors intensify as the sugars caramelize and they get that little smoky char. For this salad, I chose red beets and butternut squash for the color on a holiday table, but any hard squash, pumpkin, or root vegetable would work equally as well. If your grill is already put away for the season, you can always roast the vegetables in the oven.
The bacon vinaigrette is a perfect sweet, sour, salty combination made with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and it gets absorbed by the grains for great flavor in every bite. If possible, use Grade B maple syrup for a rich maple flavor, although the standard Grade A is delicious. (By all means use real maple syrup and not pancake syrup!)
I always make more than I need when making this type of salad because I inevitably find myself standing at the fridge eating from the leftovers. 😉
- ¾ cup white quinoa, rinsed
- ¾ cup Japonica (black) rice
- 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed, divided
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 medium red beets, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- Maple Bacon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grilling grid
- Cooks quinoa and rice separately. For each use 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or water, 1 smashed garlic clove, 3 sprigs of thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt. Follow cooking instructions on package. When cooked, spread on baking tray to cool.
- Set up grill for indirect cooking with medium-high heat (400°F).
- Separately drizzle squash and beets with olive oil and toss to coat; season with a little salt and pepper. Place on grilling grid and set on grill over the unlit side. Close grill cover and grill roast until fork tender; about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- While vegetables roast, make Maple Bacon Vinaigrette (recipe below).
- In a large bowl, combine the grains and vegetables and toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Taste and add more dressing if necessary. Add in the chopped parsley and peptitas reserving a little of each for garnish. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining parsley and pepitas. Serve at room temperature.
- 3 rashers bacon, cooked crisp
- 3 tablespoons real maple syrup, preferably Grade B
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon, chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
- ½ cup neutral oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Chop bacon and add to the bowl of a blender along with the maple syrup, mustard, garlic, shallots, thyme leaves, and vinegar. Turn on the blender and slowly drizzle in the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!