Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The most versatile Quinoa salad

Quinoa - 

I do know that quinoa is a superfood/grain and that it is extremely healthy for you! But that’s about all I know scientifically speaking. More importantly, what I do know is how delicious, easy to cook and (here’s that word again) versatile it is.
This recipe for delicious quinoa salad, is a vegan recipe (you can change this factor if you wish) and I suppose what you would consider “clean” eating. It certainly feels clean when you're eating it! It’s healthy, filling, super tasty and extremely easy to make. I quite honestly change what I put in this salad every single time I make it, that’s why I love it so much.
My recipe is an adaptation from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Avocado, Quinoa and Fava Bean salad in his book Plenty. Here is a link to the original recipe: http://www.culinate.com/books/collections/all_books/plenty/avocado_quinoa_and_fava_bean_salad. 

My tip: anyone wanting to eat more vegetarian food, purchase this book (you’re going to have a whole bookshelf of books soon) – but I’m serious, this book is packed full of extremely enticing vegetarian recipes, you’ll be forgetting meat exists after reading this book! Here is a link to purchase: http://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?author=Yotam+Ottolenghi&gclid=CODG7-ChirYCFUlcpQod4FEAKQ 

Do it…. Now for the recipe! I am not going to give proper measurements because it really depends on your own taste.


  • Quinoa – red or white, or both!
  • Dried chilli flakes and/or fresh chopped chilli.
  • Cumin seeds or ground cumin.
  • Lemon.
  • Vegetables – sometimes I use carrots, corn, frozen peas, spinach leaves, broccoli, ALWAYS avocado – it is quite literally whatever you like in your salads, or, whatever you have lying around the house.
  • Garlic.
  • Red onion.
  • Any sort of raw nuts and/or seeds – sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts – whatever!
  • Salt and pepper to season (Himalayan pink salt is best)

  • Cook quinoa to package instructions and set aside. Cook as much quinoa as you will use, 1 part of quinoa needs 3 parts water, keep in mind that quinoa expands a lot as well so only a small amount is necessary for one person. If you want to make a large salad to feed around four people comfortably, then 1 cup of quinoa will be more than enough.
  • To cook the quinoa, place 1 part of the grain (for example 1 cup) in a saucepan, and 3 parts water (in this example, 3 cups of water) and bring to the boil. When boiled, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take off the heat, drain into a colander and set aside.
  • With the red onion and garlic, you can cook these either by roasting them or pan-frying them – both are delicious.
  • To roast – chop up red onion in pieces, leaving the skin on – and place on a roasting tray. Place whole cloves of garlic, again with the skin on, and throw these on the tray too. Drizzle with some olive oil, and bake in the oven until roasted. This is done by eye and I would bake them at around 180 degrees Celsius but you can make the temperature hotter if you want to speed up the process. By leaving the skin on the vegetables, they will become incredibly tender, especially the garlic which turns into a smooth sweet and oh so delicious garlic paste when you squeeze it out of the skin – yes it does mean you have to peel while eating, but trust me its worth it.
  • To pan-fry – chop, dice, slice, whatever – the garlic and onion (you could also throw some fresh chilli in here) - again, as much as you want to use - and pan fry in some olive oil on a low heat until soft and translucent.
  • Peel and slice as much lemon as you want to use, I like to cut the lemon into segments and then squeeze the remaining lemon juice from the lemon, place this directly into the salad bowl you will be using, to start the process of assembling the salad.
  • Sprinkle the lemon juice and segments with dried chilli flakes, ground cumin, or if using cumin seeds – make sure you crush them in a mortar and pestle a bit first – add whatever other seasonings you like, but be mindful of the flavour combinations.
  • Now put the cooked quinoa in this same bowl.
  • On top of the quinoa, add any vegetables you want as I said above, the choice is yours and completely up to your taste. In this process also add the garlic and onion.
  • Top with some nuts and/or seeds, any of your choice, but make sure you pan-fry them in a dry pan on a medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute first, until they are beginning to brown and are fragrant, to bring out their flavour.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, toss gently but thoroughly. If putting avocado in the salad, add that in at this last stage and gently toss through.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy! You can refrigerate this salad and eat it the next day, but it doesn’t last much longer than that, and anyway its much more delicious when eaten fresh.

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