Of all the recipes I am asked for, quinoa would by far be the most requested. So it is fitting that my opening recipe for this blog is a quinoa salad.
Only yesterday I prepared a quinoa + broccoli salad for the specials board at work. My lovely work mate Mina had a little try (it was the first time she had ever tried quinoa) and immediately asked me for the recipe. And as Mina was the very first person to subscribe to this blog I thought I would show my gratitude by posting a recipe based on that very dish! It also meant that I got to make it for my lunch today, and I was rather happy about that.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is super easy to cook once you know how. It has a very high nutritional profile and is quick cooking – hence why it is a regular in my kitchen. For my boys I introduced it very slowly by sneaking it into their rice and couscous dishes. It went undetected for a while and I gradually increased the quinoa-rice ratio over time. Sneaky. They both eat it now without complaint.
PREPARATION AND COOKING
Quinoa has a protective coating called saponin which has a bitter taste. It is extremely important that you rinse this grain in a fine mesh sieve for about 30 seconds prior to cooking. It is best cooked by absorption method, 1 part quinoa to 1 and 1/2 parts cold water, just like basmati rice. Place on a high heat until it comes to the boil, then turn the heat to low and pop a lid on. When the quinoa is ready it will swell, and a curly little tail will pop out. Quinoa should be al-dente and not mushy – this generally takes about 10-12 mins. If I am using it for a salad I rinse it again once it is cooked, in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water. Make sure it gets drained very well, water logged quinoa is not at all nice.
serves 1 very generously or a few as a side.
– 1/3 cup quinoa
– 1 lemon, zest and juice
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
– 1/4 of an avocado, cubed
– 50g feta, cubed
– handful chives, or any other herb you have on hand, chopped
– 2 Tbsp toasted pepitas
– salt and pepper
Start by cooking your quinoa by the method described above. While it is cooking you can also blanch the broccoli florets in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Resist the urge to cook them for any longer. Drain under cold running water until cool. Pat dry with a tea towel.
Place your lemon juice, zest, olive oil and a big pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper into a jar and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside. When the quinoa is ready, rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly. Place the quinoa into a large serving bowl with the broccoli and chopped herbs. Pour on half the lemon dressing and toss to combine. I use my hands for this. Add the feta and avocado, very gently toss again and taste for seasoning – adjust if necessary (I almost always will add more salt). Sprinkle on toasted pepitas and drizzle a little more dressing on if you wish. It is now ready to serve!