roasted rainbow carrot quinoa bowl + cilantro lemon yogurt sauce

march 22, 2015

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As I'm sure you all have heard or experienced, we've had a doozy of a winter on the east coast this year. Many days brought cold and grey and at one point I thought the snow would never stop. Today, it is 35° and sunny and I'm practically jumping for joy in my little Beacon Hill apartment. The sunshine and "springtime" vibes had me craving something colorful and bright and comforting as well, as it isn't exactly warm outside yet. 

I found myself daydreaming of home and all of the tasty and fresh meals my family and I used to whip up daily. Growing up in southern California had it's many perks, one being access to beautiful fruits and veggies no matter the season. Living so close to Mexico, many of our meals shared were variations of taco plates and salads, always vibrant and satisfying. For this recipe, I drew inspiration from the mornings spent weaving through the La Jolla farmer's market with my mom, from the hours spent in our kitchen together with the windows open, and from the chit chat and laughs that follow a satisfying meal on the patio with family and friends. I drew from the warmth and comfort of home, and this hearty quinoa bowl nearly had me believing it was 70° and sunny outside my frosty window. 

quinoa bowl -

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large rainbow carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 2 generous handfuls curly kale, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 Tbsp good olive oil
  • salt to taste

cilantro lemon yogurt sauce (makes a generous amount) - 

  • 1 small bushel cilantro, de-stemmed 
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp plain greek yogurt (I use Fage 2%)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don't like spice)

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and chop rainbow carrots length wise and then width wise so you end up with rather large pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread the oil-coated carrots out on your lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the 2 cups of water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed, roughly 15 - 20 minutes. As your quinoa is cooking, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place your halved cherry tomatoes round side down, and allow skin to char. This gives them a nice, smoky kind of flavor and will only take a few minutes. Once charred, scoop the tomatoes into a bowl and set aside. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil into the heated skillet and distribute evenly, coating the base. Add your minced garlic, mix around a bit, and then throw in your kale. Push the kale around to coat evenly with olive oil and garlic and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until tender, roughly 5 minutes.

While your greens are cooking, throw all of the cilantro sauce ingredients, save the olive oil, in a blender or food processor. Pulse until completely blended, gradually adding the olive oil. 

Finally, dice the avocado and prepare to assemble your quinoa bowl. Place a portion of the cooked quinoa into a bowl, and pile high with kale, tomatoes, avocado, and roasted carrots. Drizzle some cilantro sauce on top and sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you want an extra kick. Enjoy!