Blistered Tomato and Red Quinoa Salad

This red quinoa salad is a crowd pleasing must.   Toss in blistered tomatoes with caramelized skins and rich juices for a flavorful salad.  It's wonderful as a side dish, and pairs well with grilled fish. So get the flames started and start blistering away.

Blistered Tomato and Red Quinoa Salad

Servings: 12-14

 2 pints cherry tomatoes (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 large red onion, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons agave nectar

 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1 large cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet about 6 inches below the broiler until the walnuts are browned in spots and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to cool. 

3. Arrange the tomatoes and sliced onions in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet about 6-inches below the broiler until the tomatoes are blistered and onions are softened, 8-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

4. In a small pot bring the water to a boil.  Add the quinoa and return to a boil.  When a boil is reached, cover and reduce to a simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes before fluffing with a fork.  

5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper until combined.  Add the parsley and whisk to combine.  

6. In a large bowl toss the cooled walnuts, broiled onions, cooled quinoa and cucumbers with the vinaigrette until well coated.  Gently toss in the blistered tomatoes and serve room temperature or chilled.

DO AHEAD: The vinaigrette can be made 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.  The salad can be made 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.