Fluffy quinoa, peppery arugula, sweet and crunchy apple slices with crispy fried shallots topped with a super simple honey mustard vinaigrette – there’s so much to love in this quinoa apple salad! | Gluten Free + Vegetarian
Three words: Crispy. Fried. Shallots.
Have you ever had them before? Fried shallots are typically something you’d find more often used as a tasty garnish in Thai cuisine, but it makes for an excellent topper in this quinoa apple salad. It’s kind of like a sweeter, yet still savoury crouton and I am now obsessed.
The sweet and savoury fried shallots go so well here because this salad is really all about the balance of sweet and salty flavours. Sweet, tart apple slices mixed in with a savoury, stock-boiled quinoa and tossed with fresh peppery arugula.
How to Make this Quinoa Apple Salad with Crispy Shallots
- Cook quinoa: While you certainly can cook your quinoa in salted water, boiling it in stock ensure you end up with the most flavour packed salad you can get. Simply cook for about 15-20 minutes until fluffy then set aside.
- Fry shallots: Frying the shallots in olive oil for about 15-20 minutes until crispy. Fried shallots are beautifully savoury, crispy and completely addicting and they make a great addition to this quinoa apple salad.
- Strain shallots from oil to make vinaigrette: After the shallots have properly crisped up, strain the oil from the shallots and set aside in a small bowl to cool. Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess oil then season with salt. Now try not to eat all the shallots before you get a chance to add them to the salad.
- Make the Vinaigrette: After the oil has had a chance to cool slightly, mix in the the remaining dressing ingredients: vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine then taste and season.
- Assemble salad & enjoy: In a large salad bowl, mix everything together, toss with the vinaigrette and that’s it!
Tips, Questions and Variations
Watch the colour of the shallots.
- For about 15 minutes your shallots will look mostly unchanged, but as soon as a few start turning in colour don’t take your eyes off of them. Once a few change colour the rest will shortly after and you’ll need to move quickly when removing them from the heat to prevent them from going too dark and bitter.
What type of apple should I use?
- It doesn’t matter too much but I recommend something sharp and crisp like honey crisp or granny smith. Don’t sweat the apples too much – use what you like or what you have available!
Do I have to boil the quinoa in stock?
- If you don’t have any chicken or vegetable stock on hand (bouillon cubes work too!) then you can still make this quinoa boiling in water. I highly recommend that you season the water as it boils though to impart extra flavour in the quinoa. Adding things like garlic or onion powder with herbs like parsley or thyme (ingredients you would also find in stock) will work.
How can I make this vegan?
- Make sure to use vegetable stock for the quinoa.
- Use a dairy free parmesan in place of the regular parmesan. You can skip the parmesan all together but I do think the extra saltiness adds to the salad.
Nuts & seeds substitution?
- You can swap out the pepitas for other nuts/seeds of your choice. Almonds, walnuts and pecans all go well with apple. If you’re looking for a nut free option you could use sunflower seeds instead.
- 1 cup (180 g) uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups (480 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more for topping
- 5 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup parsley, freshly chopped
- 1 large or medium apple (look for a sharp, crisp apple)
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- shaved or grated parmesan
- Add the quinoa to a medium sized sauce pan and cover with stock. Bring the pot to a boil over a medium-high heat then reduce the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the quinoa to a bowl so that it cools faster.
- While the quinoa is cooking - fry the shallots. In a small sauce-pan over a medium heat combine the sliced shallots and 1/3 cup olive oil. Let the shallots cook for about 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy. Make sure to stir the shallots often to keep them from burning. Once golden remove the pan from the heat.
- Place a sieve over a small bowl and pour the fried shallots into the sieve, separating the oil from the shallots. Transfer the shallots to a paper towel lined plate then sprinkle with salt. Set aside. Allow the oil to cool at least five minutes.
- Make the vinaigrette: in the bowl with the slightly cooled oil, add the apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Taste and season as you see fit.
- In a large salad bowl combine the quinoa, arugula, parsley, apple, pepitas and fried shallots. Toss together the drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. Toss once more to combine. Grind a little more black pepper over the top of the salad and enjoy.
- Feel free to swap out the pepitas for other toasted nuts/seeds you have on hand. Walnuts and pecans are great options.
- Recipe adapted from Delish.com - Best Ever Farro Salad