Leftovers for lunch can be pretty boring. But, if you plan your dinner menu so that you can use the components in a completely different meal for lunch, it’s a win-win situation.
This week’s Spiced Quinoa, Roasted Vegetable and Arugula Salad is a hearty salad that can be made of leftovers from last night’s dinner.
The salad is one I concocted after a disappointing restaurant salad in which the roasted carrots were under cooked. The restaurant salad was labeled a “chopped salad,” but it included huge leaves of spinach. I knew I’d prefer arugula combined with the carrots – and this is the resulting salad.
The dinner menu the night before you prepare the salad would be a store-bought rotisserie chicken, some spiced red quinoa and roasted beets and carrots.
The quinoa and vegetables are given a hint of exotic flavor from some garam masala, an Indian spice blend available in the spice aisle. Garam masala is a mild and flavorful combination of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and other spices.
After dinner, place some arugula in the bottom of a storage container, top with some of the quinoa and roasted vegetables along with toasted pecan halves and crumbled goat cheese. (Note: If you’re not a fan of arugula you can substitute baby spinach or baby kale. Coarsely chop the greens if the leaves are larger than a 50 cent piece.) Add leftover rotisserie chicken to the salad for a heartier meal.
The next step is whipping up a quick pecan vinaigrette to toss with the salad the next day. I use pecan oil in the dressing, thanks to a gift from our friend Suzanne Herbert, but canola oil or light olive oil can be used in its place.
To serve at home, toss the arugula with some vinaigrette and then top with the remaining ingredients, drizzling everything with a little more of the vinaigrette.
The recipe may seem daunting because of the separate preparation of the quinoa, roasted vegetables and vinaigrette, but since everything except the dressing can be served as part of dinner the night before and then tossed together quickly, it really isn’t that time consuming.
One way to save time is to use pre-cooked and ready-to-use roasted beets. Costco and some supermarkets carry these. You can omit the carrots and cut another step out of the preparation. And, although the pecan vinaigrette is quite good, you could substitute store-bought dressing. If you go that route, a raspberry vinaigrette or honey mustard vinaigrette would pair well with the combination of ingredients.
SPICED QUINOA, ROASTED VEGETABLE AND ARUGULA SALAD
Place the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse with cold water. Combine in a medium saucepan with the water, garam masala and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the carrots and beets with the oil and garam masala and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the veggies on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside to cool.
Whisk the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder together in a bowl. Whisk in the oil. Stir in the pecans. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.
To assemble as a main-dish salad, place the greens and quinoa in a large bowl. Add some of the vinaigrette and toss. Divide between salad plates, top with some of the roasted vegetables, pecans and goat cheese and then drizzle with a little more of the dressing.
Makes 4 large main-dish salads.
Serve the quinoa and roasted vegetables as a side dish at dinner and combine the leftovers with the other ingredients in the salad for two lunch-sized servings.