WARM QUINOA SALAD

 

I know there are people who shudder at the idea of quinoa but this little grain, or strictly speaking this little seed, is full of protein and easy to digest. It’s also gluten-free. I sometimes use it  in place of couscous, and occasionally instead of rice but it’s very versatile and adds texture and flavour to many dishes. Apart from this it’s quick to cook, especially if you soak it first. 

  

Ingredients:

 

Quinoa (how much depends on how many you’re feeding-rule of thumb is the dry quinoa will take up double its own weight of water-so 1 cup of dry quinoa = 2 cups of cooked quinoa)

1 small onion or a few spring onions (scallions)

1 small pepper, any colour but as ever the brighter the colour the more colourful the dish.

1 can of chick peas-drained (cannellini would work just as well but either way retain the liquid)

 

 

  

 

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Chilli flakes (again how much depends on how hot you like your dish-I use ¼ tsp just for a little heat)

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Salt & pepper

1 dessertspoon of sesame seeds

Handful of cherry tomatoes

1/3 of a cucumber

Fresh leaves (spinach, rocket, watercress or chopped up lettuce is fine)

Fresh mint (basil or oregano works but mint adds to the middle eastern flavours)

Handful of olives

Tablespoon of capers

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Soft boiled eggs (1 per person-but omit if preferred)

Tahini

 

Method:

 

Put the dry quinoa in a pan and add double the amount of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat so it’s just about simmering, it will take around 10-15 minutes but beware of overcooking it. Better that it retains its texture than turns to mush.

 

While the quinoa is cooking chop the onion and pepper and gently sauté in a little of the oil, add the drained chick peas along with the spices. When cooked through set aside.

 

Put the eggs on to soft boil, they need to have a soft but not too runny yolk so I put them in cold water and bring to the boil-from cold to cooked takes 10 minutes for medium eggs. Run cold water over to stop the cooking process while you assemble the salad.

 

Gently toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden, don’t use a high heat as they easily burn which is not very pleasant.

 

Chop the cucumber and halve the tomatoes unless you’re using a tiny piccolo type, in which case leave them whole. Place leaves, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl, add the capers and olives and the chopped mint. Now add the cooked onions and peppers and the warm quinoa. Using two large forks or spoons toss the whole thing together so everything is amalgamated.

 

Now for the dressing. I find an empty screw top jar the ideal thing for making dressing. Pour in the remaining oil, the lemon juice and a little tahini plus a little sea salt and black pepper. Shake well, if it’s too thick you can slacken it with a little of the retained liquor from the beans. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it all again lightly.

 

Shell the eggs and cut in half.

 

Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and top with the halved eggs.

 

A fresh and filling salad that is simple and quick to make but remember not to get hung up on the list of ingredients because many of them can be swapped for what you have in your fridge and store cupboard.