This easy Quinoa Slaw Salad with Honey Jalapeño Dressing is a healthier twist on traditional coleslaw. Finely diced and grated cabbage, carrot, and cucumber are tossed with quinoa and a sweet, spicy, and slightly tart dressing. Sorry, no mayonnaise here (not that I don’t like mayonnaise).
I’ve also included in this post an Olive Oil Guide. Because I realized how often I’ve said “use good quality olive oil” without explaining what that means.Jump to Recipe
Happy Mini Anniversary
I have a lot of mini anniversaries and life events coming up in the next couple of months. A year ago today I published, “How Losing My Colon is a Transformation and Not a Loss.” I originally wanted to share a recipe that captured the idea of transformation but I started recipe testing too late.
I asked for opinions on Instagram and recipes using yeast were the most recommended for a recipe representing “transformation”. I’ve been wanting to do something with sourdough bread for a while. My ultimate goal is to produce something similar to loaves at Wild Flour.
I had problems getting my leavens to work but my second attempt at making sourdough bread was successful. I’m keeping a detailed sourdough bread baking journal and hopefully, I’ll get a detailed tutorial out of my learning process.
Thank you all for all for being here and staying with me during my journey!
Quinoa Slaw Salad
Originally I made this Quinoa Slaw Salad with the dying contents of my vegetable drawer and as a specific side to Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Hot Honey from Bon Appétit.
I highly recommend the pairing and if you decide to try this Quinoa Slaw Salad, please do yourself a favor and make the potatoes too. Getting a little bite of roasted hot honeyed sweet potato and Quinoa Slaw Salad is absolutely heavenly. My dad loved it so much I decided to turn it into a regular dish rather than a leftover one.
Pan roasting the quinoa before cooking it gives the salad some depth of flavor. Once the quinoa cools, tossing it with a little jalapeño olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and Himalayan salt helps add more flavors to the whole salad.
Because quinoa is so small, I decided that all the veggies should be finely diced or grated. I finely diced the cabbage and cucumber and grated the carrot. The veggies are tossed with a Honey Jalapeño Dressing made of jalapeño olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, red wine vinegar, and Himalayan salt.
Jalapeño Olive Oil
I’d say the one ingredient that might seem unimportant but is actually necessary for this Quinoa Slaw Salad to taste as it should is jalapeño olive oil. I’m sorry! I try not to use random pantry ingredients that aren’t in the average person’s kitchen.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to replicate that flavor without buying co-milled oil. Simply slice a jalapeño, place it in a small mason jar with about a ¼ cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil, and let it sit overnight at room temperature.
Olive Oil Guide
I laugh at the number of posts that I’ve vaguely said to use “good quality olive oil” without really explaining what I meant. I’m going into more detail today because I realized how bad some olive oils are.
I’ve been using “good quality extra virgin olive oil” for years. But when I was experimenting with jalapeños and olive oil for this Quinoa Slaw Salad, I didn’t want to use my good quality extra virgin olive oil. So I picked up the stuff I used to use.
The next day I tested it. And it was definitely jalapeño flavored but it was such bad olive oil. It tasted like something you should put in your car and not in your body. So I’m going to spend a little time today talking about extra virgin olive oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Co-milled Olive Oils
International standards require anything labeled as “extra virgin olive oil” to pass chemical and sensory tests.
Chemically, the oil has to meet specific parameters that indicate whether it’s been handled and stored correctly, with no chemicals or excessive heat used throughout any of the processes.
A trained tasting panel evaluates the olive oil for the sensory test, looking for defects in taste and odor. Things that can affect the flavor of the olive oil are:
- Poor quality olives
- Damaged olives (poor handling, mold, frost)
- Olives that were not milled within 24 hours of harvest
- Olives that were milled at a temperature over 86 degrees Fahrenheit
This all sounds wonderful, but unfortunately, olive oils in the United States are not required to go through any testing. But luckily there are independent organizations, like the California Olive Oil Council, that have created a Seal Certification Program and a certification process.
What to look for
Extra virgin olive oil is best when it is freshly pressed and it does not need time to mature like wine. In fact, extra virgin olive will go rancid if it’s not used within a specific time period. It should be purchased within 12 to 18 months of its harvest date and be used within 6 months of opening.
This is why extra virgin olive oil is sold in fairly small bottles, around 12 ounces. Selling them in large bulk containers would be pointless, as the oil would most likely go rancid before you could use it all.
Extra virgin olive oil is also sensitive to light, heat, and air. It should be sold in dark glass or tin vessels to cut down on light exposure and stored in a cool dark pantry.
Make sure that the extra virgin olive oil you are buying has a harvest or milling date and is from the most recent harvest.
Taste Testing Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If at all possible, it’s great if you can taste the extra virgin olive oil before you buy it. Going olive oil tasting is similar to going wine tasting. And sometimes you can do both together, which is even more fun.
Professionals sip theirs in tulip shaped blue glasses. The tulip shape traps the aromas, making it easier to sniff. The blue tint stops the tasters from judging the olive oil from its color, which isn’t an indicator of the quality or flavor profile.
To taste you swirl, sniff, slurp, and swallow taking note of:
- Intensity and aromas
- Retro-nasal aroma (the aroma that you smell while food or drink is in your mouth) and the level of bitterness
- The pungency at the back of the throat. Extra virgin olive oil is extremely high in polyphenols, some of which are responsible for the peppery sensation in the back of your throat. If an oil is pungent, it will cause you to have a scratchy throat or makes you want to cough. Did you cough once? Twice? Three times?
Co-Milled Olive Oils
Earlier I used the phrase “co-milled” oil to describe jalapeño olive oil.
Co-milled oils are made with extra virgin olive oil that has been co-milled with whole fresh fruit. This means that the olives and fruit are ground and crushed together. The oils in the fruit add distinctive flavors to the olive oil.
The finished product is not called extra virgin olive oil though because of the added fruits but “co-milled flavored oils.”
Why It’s Important?
In some cases, you might not notice the quality of the extra virgin olive oil you are using. But salads like this Quinoa Slaw Salad make it easy to taste the bitter and rancid flavors of bad or spoiled extra virgin olive oil. Here are some other spring and summer recipes I think it’s important to use good quality extra virgin olive oil:
Quinoa Slaw Salad with Honey Jalapeño Dressing
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tablespoon jalapeño olive oil *see Recipe Notes
- 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1 small head of cabbage, finely diced about 5 cups
- 2 cups shredded carrot 2 large carrots
- 1 large cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeds scraped out, and diced about 1 cup
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons jalapeño olive oil *see Recipe Notes
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 3/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.
- Combine the quinoa with 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
- Spread the cooked quinoa out on a baking sheet to cool.
- Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and salt together and toss the cooled quinoa with the dressing. Set aside.
- While the quinoa is simmering and cooling, prepare your ingredients.
- Whisk the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, red wine vinegar, and salt together in a big serving bowl.
- Add the vegetables and toss together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.