Want to add some excitement to your salad game? This Maple Harissa Roasted Carrot Quinoa Salad is here to blow your taste buds away! With its savory blend of roasted carrots and onions, spicy harissa and sweet maple syrup, this salad is a flavor explosion that will leave you wanting more.ion
Grab your apron and let’s make a roasted carrot quinoa salad that will make your taste buds sing! This salad is not your average salad. It’s a flavor-packed combination of sweet and (mildly) spicy that I can’t wait to share with you.
This unique salad brings together the earthiness of roasted carrots, the nuttiness of quinoa and the boldness of harissa.
It’s a great dish for lunch or dinner, or as a side dish for potlucks and dinner parties. Or serve it as part of your Easter brunch or dinner, alongside Easter Bunny Deviled Eggs or some of my other favorite Easter recipes.
What is harissa?
Harissa is a spicy, aromatic condiment that is commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, though originated in Tunisia. It’s a blend of chili peppers, olive oil, citrus and garlic, along with a mixture of herbs and spices, such as coriander, cumin and mint. The exact recipe for harissa can vary depending on the region and the preferences of the cook, but it generally has a bright red color and a smoky, slightly sweet flavor.
In North Africa, harissa is a popular ingredient in traditional dishes such as couscous and tagines. It is also often used as a condiment for grilled meats and vegetables. In the Middle East, harissa is commonly used in dips and spreads, such as hummus, and as a topping for flatbreads.
Ingredients for quinoa salad with carrots
▪️ QUINOA: I used tricolor quinoa. Feel free to substitute with white, red or black quinoa.
▪️ CARROTS: Rainbow carrots (orange, purple and yellow) add a great pop of color and slight variation in flavor. Orange carrots can be substituted.
▪️ ONIONS: Red onion adds a nice pop of color. Yellow onions can be substituted.
▪️ HARISSA: Harissa can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores. It is often sold in a jar, but can also be found in tubes or cans. I used the Trader Joe’s brand.
▪️ MAPLE SYRUP: Use pure maple syrup rather than corn-syrup based syrups. The flavor is considerably better.
▪️ SEASONINGS: Garlic powder is used in both the dressing and carrot glaze. In addition, the recipe calls for cumin, fresh garlic and kosher salt.
▪️ HERBS: Chopped flat-leaf parsley and thinly sliced green onions.
▪️ LEMON: Use fresh lemon juice for the dressing. I love this hand-held citrus juicer!
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
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How to make carrot quinoa salad
RINSE THE QUINOA: Pour the quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and give it a good rinse by running it under cold water. This helps rinse off the saponin, a natural out coating which can taste a little bitter.
COOK THE QUINOA: Cook the quinoa on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and spread it out on a large baking sheet to cool Make a double batch and freeze the extra quinoa for another day.
PREP THE VEGETABLES: Cut the peeled carrots on the diagonal into pieces about 1 inch in length. As the carrots get thicker near the root end, cut in half lengthwise first. Cut the onion into ½-inch pieces.
MAKE THE GLAZE: Whisk together the glaze ingredients – olive oil, maple syrup, harissa, cumin, garlic powder and salt.
ROAST THE VEGETABLES: Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Pile the vegetables on the tray and pour over the glaze. Toss to coat the veggies and spread them out. Roast until carrots are tender when pierced with a fork.
MAKE THE DRESSING: Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
COMBINE AND SERVE: In a serving bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, roasted vegetables, parsley and green onion. Toss with the dressing. Serve it up!
Make-ahead and storage tips
This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It’s fine to dress the salad before storing it. Since the quinoa tends to soak up the dressing as it sits, make a little extra dressing and set it aside in the fridge. Mix it into the salad right before serving.
Tips for making this salad
Here are some tips to keep in mind when making this salad:
▪️ Choose the right carrots: You want to make sure you select carrots that are not too thin, as they can become too dry and burnt when roasted. Look for carrots that are of medium thickness, and make sure they are evenly sized so they cook at the same rate.
▪️ Roasting the carrots: Roasting the carrots with maple syrup and harissa creates a sweet and spicy flavor profile that is irresistible. Make sure to toss the carrots in the maple syrup and harissa mixture evenly to ensure they are coated well.
▪️ Cooking the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa under running water before cooking to remove any bitterness. Use a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio for best results. Cook the quinoa until the water is absorbed.
▪️ Dressing the salad: The dressing for this salad is simple to make and full of flavor. It consists of olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and harissa. Make sure to whisk the ingredients well to emulsify the dressing.
Frequently Asked Questions:
If you don't have harissa, you can substitute it with other chili paste or hot sauce of your choice. Just make sure to adjust the quantity according to your taste.
You can substitute other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, rutabaga or turnips.
Absolutely! This salad is very versatile, and you can add other ingredients like roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese, or chopped herbs like cilantro or parsley to customize it to your liking.
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and comment underneath the recipe card below. Thank you!
Roasted Carrot Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup tricolor quinoa (or white, red or black quinoa)
- 2 cup water
- 1 ¼ pounds rainbow carrots
- 1 small red onion cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons harissa
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under running water. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the quinoa absorbs the water, 18 to 20 minutes.
- Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a large baking sheet and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut the carrots into diagonal pieces about 1 inch long. As the carrots gets thicker, cut them in half lengthwise first. Pile the carrots and onions onto a large baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, harissa, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Pour the mixture over the carrots and onions. Toss to coat.
- Roasted the vegetables until the carrots are tender, tossing them halfway through and transferring the baking sheet to the bottom rack of the oven to encourage further browning. Total cook time is 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots.
- After the vegetables cool for a few minutes, stir them into the quinoa, along with the parsley, green onion and dressing. Toss to combine. Serve.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice maple syrup, grated garlic, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper.
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