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Grilled Quail Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

From page 36 of Sunset Eating up the West Coast: The best road trips, restaurants, and recipes from California to Washington.

By Brigit Binns

Published April 28th, 2015

The Ranch House is delightfully and unapologetically Old California. But back in the days when my mother attended school in the still-small town of Ojai, the quail would have been caught outside the back door and served simply with mashed potatoes. It never would've experienced this wine-rich marinade, then be grilled and served atop a fresh salad. In the case of this dish, progress is good. Note: If the quail have been boned out you obviously will not need to spatchcock them (cut out the backbones, to lie flat, as described in the recipe).


30 minutes, plus at least 3 hours to marinate and stand.


  • 4 quail, 3-4 oz. each


  • 3/4 cup Pinot Noir or other dry red wine

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil


  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

  • 1 tsp. grated or minced fresh ginger

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1 tbsp/ honey

  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 4 cups baby greens

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced crosswise


  1. Rinse the quail and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels inside and out. With kitchen shears or a heavy, sharp knife, cut out the backbones and press down on the breastbones with the palm of your hand to flatten them. Cut each quail in half lengthwise (through the breast bone). If desired, remove the thigh bones and part of the breast cage (this will make them easier to eat), scraping as much meat off the bone as you can

  2. Make the marinade: in a large resealable plastic bag, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the quail and turn to coat all sides. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Return to room temperature for 1 hour before grilling.

  3. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.

  4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high heat (450 F to 550 F) and oil the cooking grate. Grill the quail until dark grill marks show and meat is firm but still a little pink at the bone, about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Do not overcook, or they will be tough. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, cook the pine nuts until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. In a bowl, toss together the greens, tomatoes, and carrot. Add the pine nuts. Re-whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle a little over the salad. Toss to coat all the ingredients evenly, and divide among four plats. Top each salad with a grilled quail and serve. Pass the remaining vinaigrette.

Per Serving: 641 Cal., 78% (499Cal.) from fat; 22 g protein; 56 g fat (6.9 g sat.); 17 g carbo (1.9 g fiber); 266 mg sodium; 67 mg chol. GF/LS.

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