A quinoa salad with runner beans, cherry tomatoes, greek olives and toasted pumpkin seeds
October 11, 2011
Quinoa. You’ve heard of it, mispronounced it even (next time say “keen-wah”). So just what is it? Well, it’s a seed that you eat like a grain, sort of like cous cous or, indeed, rice. It’s texture is curiously tender yet crunchy and tastewise it’s gorgeously nutty. The really big news though is that it is a nutritionist’s dream, with an almost perfect balance of amino acids and a high protein content (12%) which makes it a brilliant food for vegetarians and vegans. The combination of manganese and copper make it a brilliant antioxidant (it makes you look younger!) plus it has tons of iron. I could go on but really the bottom line is that you need to get this into your weekly repetoire. As soon as.
Don’t panic about how to cook it – it’s quick and very easy (David Lynch in a wonderfully out there quinoa cooking class advises a glass of wine while “all the little quinoas” bubble away) plus you can make it in advance. I cook it in the same way I prepare cous cous - I lightly toast it on the pan then add hot water and let it bubble way for about 15 minutes until tender. Each seed sprouts a little “tail” and when that happens it’s cooked.
For a very healthy yet surprisingly moreish lunch, I often have a bowl with a couple of onions pan-fried in butter til golden and almost mushy stirred through then topped with a handful of steamed broccoli florets with lots of black pepper and a generous pinch of Maldon. Salads are another way to go and everything you can do with cous cous you can do here. Last night I took what were probably the last of this summer’s runner beans, cherry vine tomatoes, black Greek olives, some salty feta and a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds and put them together to make a very satisfying side to go with a courgette omelette. Today, I’ve just finished a bowl of the leftovers for lunch.
To keep things light I used a lemon dressing with a little balsamic thrown in for a depth. If you’re making this to have for lunch the next day you can dress it in advance but you might want to add a little extra lemon juice before you eat as the citrus bite tends to dissipate over night.
Quinoa salad with runner beans, cherry vine tomatoes, olives and feta topped with toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup quinoa
300gr cherry vine tomatoes washed and quartered
A large handful black olives very roughly chopped
200gr feta cheese
A handful pumpkin seeds lightly toasted on a dry pan
For the dressing:
The juice of one lemon (slightly less if it’s a really big one)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Begin with the quinoa – toast it on a pan over a lowish heat until it starts to change colour slightly. Add 3 cups of hot water, stir well adding a generous pinch of salt. Allow things to settle down to a simmer. Cook for about 12 minutes until the quinoa is almost tender and the aforementioned tails are starting to appear. Add the beans and cover for about 2 minutes to let them steam. At this stage the water should be completely absorbed, the quinoa grains light and fluffy and the beans al dente. Let things cool down a bit while you put the dressing together. Mix the juice, balsamic and oil together and add a generous pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. To finish things off, add the tomatoes, olives and most of the pumpkin seeds to the quinoa and beans. Stir in the dressing and, finally crumble in the feta. Top with the rest of the pumpkin seeds and you’re ready to serve.
Can’t track it down?
You can get some with your next fruit and veg delivery if you’re having trouble finding quinoa locally. A 500gr pack costs €3.35. Just give us a shout .
Have a great week,