Monday, January 28, 2013

Roasted Mushroom Qunioa Salad - A Food Photography Challenge

Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Pears

The New Year brings new ideas.  And while I'm not much for resolutions,  my holiday season of "I so totally deserve that" indulgence has found me turning to more healthy options as I avoid some of those carb-loaded baked treats.  While the thought of our recent Peanut Butter Cookies smothered with that decadent Peanut Butter Ganache makes my heart race, it's heart-healthy quinoa that my heart actually craves.  As luck would have it, my Inspired Plate Food Photography and Styling Challenge for January is.... Healthy.  And, Quinoa = Healthy.

Posts on quinoa here on Liv Life are nothing new.  From salads to protein filled Warrior Breakfasts to quinoa kissed cookies, quinoa is where I turn when I feel the need to fuel myself with nutrition.  Though my family hasn't quite embraced the seed as much as I have, quinoa finds its way into our menu plan usually every week, and leftovers find their way onto my lunch plate in place of my beloved PBJ (with extra PB...).

Glancing at a December email from Whole Foods, their recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Mushrooms leaped off the page.  Overflowing with many of my favorite ingredients, quinoa, mushrooms, pears and balsamic, I amped up the flavor even more with a touch of rocket... or arugula, giving this salad a nice peppery spice when contrasted with a crumble of cheese sprinkled over the top.

Photographing said salad, however, brought a bit more difficulty.  Trying to zest up the photo as much as I did the salad, I opted for a bowl I had picked up months ago and not yet used.  They only had one left on the clearance shelf at  Pier 1, I knew one day I would find the right dish to photograph it with.  While I'm not sure this salad matches the prop perfectly, it did bring a sense of the spring season that I'm so longing for, and when combined with morning light the photo also brought a sense of brightness to my winter table.

Hearty, sweet yet savory, and oh, so healthy... This Roasted Mushroom Salad most certainly fits the bill.  Ready for more healthy food photography?  Join me as we whisk off to Michigan where my fellow Inspired Plate member, Jennifer Grant (an Editorial Food Photographer and Stylist) brings beauty to the healthy photo.

Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Pears in turquoise bowl

Roasted Mushroom Quinoa Salad with Pear Vinaigrette
Meaty roasted mushrooms combine with quinoa and a host of ingredients to bring this fabulous side salad or light main dish to the table.
adapted from Whole Foods
Printer friendly

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs good quality olive oil
1 ripe pear, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, halved

2 lbs portobello or crimini mushrooms, or a combination of both
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 -2 ripe pears, chopped
1-2 cups arugula**
slivered almonds or pine nuts
crumbled Feta
salt and pepper to taste 

Place the vinegar, mustard, pear and garlic in a blender with 3 Tbs of water and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Clean the portobello mushrooms of stems and gills, then cut into chunks.  Cut Crimini mushrooms into halves or quarters, and add the chopped onion to the bowl.  Pour about 3 Tbs of the dressing over the mushrooms and onions and stir to coat.  Layer the mushroom mixture in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven until nicely roasted... about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While the mushrooms are roasting, prepare your quinoa according to the package directions.  When done, fluff with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the prepared quinoa with the roasted mushrooms and onions.  Add the chopped pear and arugula, and then add the remaining vinaigrette.  Stir gently to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste

Plate salad, then top with slivered almonds or pine nuts and feta cheese.  Enjoy!

**Liv Life Note:  As an alternative to mixing the arugula into the salad, oil your arugula lightly, then serve the quinoa/mushroom mixture over the top.

Liv Life Note 2:  Sometimes we swap Blue Cheese for the feta!

For more quinoa recipes see our Quinoa Round-Up


  1. Oh what an interesting recipe. I may have to venture into the world of quinoa just to give this a whirl. Great images Kim, wonderful lighting and I love that serving bowl you used. Lovely work

  2. I have that blue bowl from your last shot, too. fun to see it used in a totally different shoot! I loved each of your shots, just beautiful!

  3. Ok, so I am going to try this again. My silly computer won't let me comment!

    This looks amazing! I could never ever get Patrick to eat it since he hates mushrooms so much, but it looks fantastic! Arugula too?? This dish has just won over my heart!

  4. These are some of my all-time favorite flavors. Quinoa is a regular in our house too, and I'm always looking for new ways to use it. This looks fabulous! Also, GORGEOUS photos. Way to go Kim!

  5. Image no.1 is by far my favorite-this quinoa salad looks fantastic and I'm not a huge mushroom fan at all but it still looks tasty!
    I see a salad with pears and arugula in my future for sure-you, Laurie, and Stacey have got me fixated on them!

  6. Kim,
    Like you I eat quinoa in some form, almost every week, I love it, and this salad is no exception. I'm always on the lookout for new quinoa recipes.

    Your photos are breath taking as always, and your new bowl goes perfectly with your "Spring" salad.

  7. Sounds delicious and I love your photography! Thanks for sharing :)

    Happy Valley Chow

  8. Beautiful job Kim! I love how you used height to visually pull me through the image on the first and your choice of dishes really added a nice touch. The aqua is perfect for the dish!

  9. Yay for arugula!!!!!!! LOL! Gorgeous images, and so healthy and clean looking. I buy quinoa and never seem to make it!

  10. I'm only just now making friends with quinoa (although I love other grains) but this salad is just the sort of thing I like. And, beautiful photography as always. You inspire me...

  11. Mushrooom pairs so perfectly with quinoa. I always feel like I'm doing superfoods properly with this two in a meal. Love the photos. Nice effort trying the different bowls. Hard to pick a favourite. I can't say blue cheese is my favourite flavour, but it looks like a nice extra flavour in this salad.

  12. Everything about this salad just sounds perfect! I love quinoa, the pear vinaigrette sounds amazing, and the pairing of both crimini and portabella mushrooms is just perfect! Now that I'm so very hungry, I may just have to test this out...thanks for sharing!


  13. Both the bowl and the salad look beautiful. This is the kind of food I've been craving lately. Love this, Kim. Makes me want summer to come...and quickly! :)

  14. Now this is exactly the salad that I've been hunting for. All the flavors that I adore, mixed with my all-time favorite ingredient - quinoa :) This is a perfect, comforting and healthy wintertime salad. Just lovely.

    I would love for you to come enter this fabulous recipe into Thank Goodness It’s Quinoa, a bi-weekly link party celebrating all things quinoa. I know our readers would adore this recipe!

    Happy Friday!!


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