Roasted Root Vegetables with Quinoa and Sherry Vinaigrette

half novice

I feel like I should name my cooking guy. In part because, I feel guilty that I cut him in half. And I cut him in half because I think this recipe is mostly pretty good for beginner cooks – but not completely novice friendly. 2/3 of this recipe is super easy, it’s just the dressing that I think is the step up. It’s not hard to make the dressing, but it requires ingredients that a beginner cook might not want to buy (sherry vinegar). But, this recipe is really yummy and so if you don’t want to make the dressing, just do the quinoa and veggies and top it with some store bought dressing if you like.

Also, before we get to the instructions, I wanted to  let it be known that I think this recipe is for girls. I know that’s a huge blanket statement and probably a little bit unfair, but here’s my reasoning.  This recipe is all about the vegetables. And it has some frou-frou ingredients. Now, that’s not to say that boys don’t like vegetables but based on the men in my life (Ryan, my father, and my brother Eric) vegetables aren’t their first choice. I mean they’ll eat them, but their first choice is never going to be a salad.  Recently, my mom and I made a seafood stew heavy with vegetables.  At the end of the meal the seafood was gone, but the veggies were still lining Papa’s plate. And also, from what my friends tell me, the same is true of their respective husbands and boyfriends. And things like quinoa, shallots, and sherry are a little frou-frou. Now I’m sure some of you are saying, that you totally eat quinoa regularly and it’s completely a staple. I agree, quinoa can be a staple but the average single guy probably doesn’t make quinoa as part of their repertoire.

For that reason I was a little hesitant about posting this recipe. And also because Ryan wasn’t a huge fan, and that made me nervous. Ryan is usually 50% of my taste-testing base. So if Ryan doesn’t like it, and I do, how do I know if I should post it? But, my coworker Cara inadvertently helped convince me that I should post it. I was eating it for lunch in our tiny shared office and she walked in and told me it smelled good. I told her that it was good, and tasted even better two days later. I also told her what was in it and that Ryan didn’t really like it. And she said, unprompted from me, that it sounded good and “like a girly recipe.” Also a few weeks later she said I inspired her and that she had made her own beet-quinoa-salad.

Also, to clarify, it wasn’t that Ryan didn’t like it because the recipe was bad. I mean, we’ve had recipes that have gone awry, and we look at each other like, “let’s throw this away immediately and make a PB&J.” This wasn’t that time. Ryan wasn’t a fan because the flavors weren’t something that his palate enjoyed. So, that’s a whole different beast. I have friends who don’t like tomatoes, or cilantro, or onions and so a recipe isn’t inherently bad because it has those things, it’s just not to their liking. So read the recipe below, and see how you feel.

Anyway, I thought this recipe was delicious and was even more delicious as leftovers because the flavors mellowed and blended. And so I know it’s bad form to start with some weird negatives and then try to convince you that’s it good. But it’s too late I did it. This recipe is good, and easy, and you should try it.

Pretty little radishes and beets

Pretty little radishes and beets

And I was really excited when I found this recipe because I had never found anything interesting to do with radishes. Ryan and I went to the farmer’s market and saw the most beautiful bunch of magenta radishes, and so we just had to buy them. But all I’ve ever done with radishes is eat them raw with dip or chop them up for salads. Occasionally I’ve diced them really fine and mixed them into meatloaf, but that’s the most exotic thing. I did a little Google searching and really didn’t come up with a whole lot.

But then, I got an email from the library and Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook was available for pick up! I love her blog and she is my go-to for sweets and baked goods. I was really excited to get her book and there was so much I wanted to try. And then, when I found this recipe I knew it would be perfect for my lovely radishes. Perelman used radishes, beats, and turnips, but I just used the first two. You could probably improvise and use any root vegetables that are your favorite (carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc). I really liked this dish because you can prepare it, heat it, and forget about it. You don’t really have to attend to it much throughout the cooking. It’s also a great stand-alone dish or it can be eaten as a side with some meat. I thought it was filling, but not too heavy, and with a great complex and yummy flavor. Hope you enjoy it too.


1/2 cup uncooked quinoa


3 small shallots

1 – 1 1/2 pounds of beets and radishes

Lemon juice

Black Pepper

For the dressing:

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt, to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

Black Pepper


1. Heat oven to 400°

2. Rinse quinoa and cook it according to package instructions. Cooking quinoa usually means this: Use double the amount of water as quinoa, so in this case 1/2 cup quinoa and one cup water. Put both in a pot and bring to boil. Then turn down heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed. This takes about 10-15 minutes. You’re not supposed to lift the lid while it’s cooking, but if you’re a new cook and curious, open the lid about 2 minutes before you think it should be one. Take a fork or spoon and push aside some quinoa to see how much water is under the grains. If it’s a lot of water you need more time. If it’s no water, it’s probably good to go.

3. Scrub and rinse veggies. Chop them in half or in quarters if the veggies are especially large

4. Peel shallots and separate cloves if there is more than one inside the skin. Place the shallots on aluminum foil, sprinkle them with olive oil, and then fold the aluminum foil into a little packet.

5. Coat a baking sheet or roasting pan with oil. Arrange the veggies in one layer. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

image (58)

6. Put the roasting pan and the aluminum foil shallot packet in the oven.

7. Roast the veggies for 30 minutes. Stir about halfway through cook time. Veggies are done when they are tender (which is when you can easily poke them with a fork).

For the dressing:

1. Remove the shallots from the oven when you remove the root veggies.

2. Take the shallots and put them in a food processor or blender.

3. Blend with the sherry, balsamic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Taste. Add more olive oil if it’s too tart and tangy from the vinegar. Add more vinegar if you like the flavor.


1. Put some quinoa on the plate.

2. Put the root vegetables on top of the quinoa.

3. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables. Leave it like that for presentation, but when you eat it I recommend mixing it all up because it tastes GREAT.

image (59)

1 spoonMessy Level:  Low. As I said before, it’s pretty much prep, cook, and serve. You don’t need too many utensils and there’s not a lot of opportunity for spilling. Although, beet juice does dye everything.


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