Quinoa with Piquillo peppers, cured olives and frisée

Food and Style - Quinoa with piquillo peppers and cured olivesThe first time I tasted quinoa was in the mid-1980’s. I’d just moved to Vermont and was discovering all kinds of new foods. It was a thrill.

I remember eagerly looking for recipes for it, but in those pre-Google times, the only thing I had to go on were the directions on the package.

So I started experimenting on my own. Before long, quinoa was a favorite in our household; it was on the menu at least once a week, in one form or another.

For me, the most seductive thing about quinoa is its texture — it is so refined! And although I often serve it in place of rice, I also love creating more sophisticated recipes for it.

That’s how I came up with today’s dish. I wanted to make an elegant appetizer, something I could serve at dinner parties — something that would highlight this little seed’s delicate shape and subtle flavor.

The best part, though, is that this recipe is extremely versatile. With a little attention to detail, it is indeed transformed into the stylish appetizer I had envisioned. And with a little nonchalance it becomes a super-easy salad served family style.

Either way, one thing’s for sure: this dish is just plain delicious!

Note: Piquillo peppers are little Spanish red peppers that have been fire-roasted, hand-peeled and jarred. They are very sweet and flavorful. I chose them for this recipe because they are as delicate as the quinoa itself! You can find Piquillo peppers in gourmet food stores such as Whole Foods, or online at La Tienda.

Food & wine pairing: Sanlúcar de Barrameda, sherry with quino, Piquillo peppers, and cured olives

Dessert-sherry wine iconA manzanilla sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in southern Spain is marvelous with this appetizer! The wine’s complex flavors work well with the Piquillo peppers and the cured olives, while its acidity stands up to the vinaigrette. Of course, a dry rosé would be delightful here too.

Food and Style - Quinoa with piquillo peppers and cured olives

Quinoa with Piquillo peppers, cured olives and frisée – served with a balsamic–shallot vinaigrette

serves 4
active time: 30 min

For the vinaigrette

  1. 1 1/2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  2. 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 small shallot – skinned and finely chopped
  4. 1 small garlic clove – skinned and crushed (see Viviane’s tip below)
  5. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  6. freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad

  1. 1 recipe quinoa
  2. 1 – 8 oz (225 g) jar Piquillo peppers (or roasted red peppers) – cut in 1/4″ strips
  3. 1/4 cup pitted cured olives – very finely chopped
  4. 1 handful frisée leaves – torn in 1” pieces
  5. 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  6. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. 1 half-cup-capacity ramequin

  1. Step 1: To make the vinaigrette — Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
  2. Step 2: Toss the quinoa with two thirds of the vinaigrette and mix well. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the ramequin and press with the back of a spoon to pack it tightly. Invert ramequin in the center of a plate and gently lift it off. It will create a small mound. Top with the Piquillo pepper slices and then a dollop of the chopped olives. Garnish with a few frisée leaves and some pine nuts. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette and finish with freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
  3. Cook’s note: To serve the quinoa family style, toss the quinoa with two thirds of the vinaigrette and mix well. Place quinoa in a serving bowl. Top with the peppers. Sprinkle with the chopped olives. Garnish with the frisée and pine nuts. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette and a little black pepper and serve.

Viviane’s tip: Crushing garlic using a microplane grater
  1. I like to use a microplane grater to crush garlic. It’s easy and there’s no mess to clean! Just quickly rub the garlic clove back and forth on the blade…

    … and in seconds you have a perfectly crushed clove!

appetizer, quinoa, piquillo peppers

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  • Reply Vegetable Matter November 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    We love quinoa too — I’m not sure why it’s not more popular. Maybe because no one knows how to pronounce it? Beautiful pics!

  • Reply Danielle November 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I am in love with this recipe! Aside from being amazingly healthful the flavors here will help me forget that it is! Well done!

  • Reply Shelly Huang November 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I love the presentation of the molded quinoa with piquillo peppers on top. I agree – it’s definitely very versatile, not to mention super-healthy and tasty!

  • Reply wasabi prime November 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Beautiful — and I also like using a microplane for garlic for dressings; makes it so easy to incorporate and no big chunks of raw garlic! The colors on this are fabulous — gread for year-round cooking.

  • Reply MightyMom November 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks! This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply Dana Treat November 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    That is just beautiful either way! Quinoa is one of those things that I know I love and I just don’t use enough. I just need to get it in a regular rotation. This is a good place to start!

  • Reply Sara November 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    love the presentation of the quinoa~

  • Reply TasteHongKong November 7, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Yes, it is elegant! And i love that grater as well.

  • Reply texmex November 7, 2009 at 1:34 am


    Did you know that you can eat quinoa without cooking it but by germinating it? 8 hours in water and a days in a drainer, it will be ready to be eaten as is. In a salad it will be perfect like in a taboule. Try it.

  • Reply foodlovee November 7, 2009 at 4:49 am

    nice shot.

  • Reply Alicia Ghio November 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I know this dish must taste great and I love the presentation! Inspiring!

  • Reply doggybloggy November 7, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    great blog and great photos!

  • Reply Cookin' Canuck November 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    What a beautiful presentation! I am a big fan of quinoa and I love the flavors that you used here.

  • Reply Mrs. L November 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Beautiful presentation and I’m always looking for quinoa recipes!

  • Reply Divina November 9, 2009 at 9:08 am

    That’s fantastic. The first time I tasted quinoa was in 2003. :) I’m so late. They are foreign in our country and they’re only gaining popularity these past few years. I have to try this quinoa dish. I love quinoa. Thanks

  • Reply Jessie November 9, 2009 at 9:19 am

    gorgeous dish! that last photo makes me want to grab myself a plate and just eat!

  • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre November 9, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments! I must say they are very heart warming and I’m very grateful for each and every one… :)

    Happy cooking!

  • Reply Gail November 9, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    What a lovely recipe and the presentation and photos are excellent. It looks delicious as well as healthy.

  • Reply Joy Zhang November 10, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Viviane you are so talented, your pictures are amazing as well as your food styling. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gifts, I enjoy your blog very much :)

  • Reply meatlessmama November 10, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Lovely photos! Quinoa is great, it is so versatile!

  • Reply Gezonde Voeding December 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Wow! it looks Yummy, i wish i can cook that deliciious food. Igot an idea, why don’t i told my girlfriend to made it? Yes, thanks for this recipes. Quinoa! i’m coming!..Nyam,,nyam..

  • Reply Voeding April 25, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Quinoa taste is Awesome, it’s delicious. My girl friend agree to cook this recipe for me. She work hard to cook Quinoa recipe because i said i really want to eat Quinoa, i can see from the picture someone provide (This site) how delicious it is. Then she cook it for me, I’m happy to be her boyfriend and I’m proud to have a girl like her :)

  • Reply Angie@Angiesrecipes December 7, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Looks very elegant and appetizing!

  • Reply Donna Ford December 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for this recipe Viviane. I have some Quinoa left over from one of your other recipes. You did an amazing job on this recipe. Great photo’s!

  • Reply Ceren Avcı February 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I do really like the recipe!! I just started following your blog and I already admired your creativity and dedication! Everyting is great! Love from Turkey!

    • Reply Viviane February 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Ceren, Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by! It is always wonderful to meet another foodie. Love right back at you from Piermont! I do hope that one day I’ll get to visit your beautiful country.

  • Reply sara October 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Yum, this looks fantastic – I love quinoa, and I love piquillo peppers – bet they make a wonderful combination!

  • Reply Laurie January 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Love this recipe. I’m also a big fan of quinoa so I’ll try it. Lovely pictures.

    • Reply Viviane January 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you Laurie!

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