On the menu:
Warm Quinoa Salad with Garam Masala Roasted Vegetables and Goats Cheese, Halloumi or Feta
Autumnal salads are a great way of injecting colour, nutrients and playfulness into a potentially dreary season on the plate.
Forget that quinoa is apparently trendy. Quinoa is actually an ancient grain that has been grown and eaten in the mountainous regions of South America for thousands of years. It was a staple food of the Incas.
And no wonder. It delivers twice the protein of rice. In fact, it contains all 9 essential amino acids and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also provides a decent dose of Vitamins B and E and is high in fibre, while being gluten free.
Since it is so high in nutrients, yet relatively inexpensive to cultivate, the United Nations declared 2013 the year of quinoa, as it is believed quinoa could help eradicate hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
From a pure culinary perspective, its texture and wonderfully nutty flavour makes it a great alternative to couscous, barley, pasta or rice. Quinoa is a great carrier of other flavours too.
Rinse it a couple of times, then cook like rice in twice the volume of water or stock. Use it in stir fries, casseroles, soups, salads or even as a breakfast porridge. Equally delicious eaten hot or cold.
Cooked quinoa doesn’t take well to freezing though, as I found out to my detriment.
Warm Quinoa Salad with Garam Masala Roasted Vegetables and Grilled Goats Cheese, Halloumi or Feta (serves 4 – GF LC V RSF)
Make this vegan by omitting the cheese if you prefer. Or make it non-vegetarian by scattering over some crispy fried bacon or pancetta lardons.
200-250 gr quinoa (I use 1 medium mug)
Double the volume of vegetable stock (I use 2 medium mugs of Marigold Swiss vegan reduced salt bouillon)
2 small courgettes, roughly chopped
2 small peppers, red or yellow, seeded and roughly chopped
300 gr sprouting broccoli, cut into 3-4 cm pieces (or broccoli in bite size florets)
240 gr semi-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, oil reserved
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into slim wedges
2-3 tbsp tahini
Juice of a lemon or lime
A small bunch of coriander or parsley, finely chopped
A small handful of toasted pine nuts
A few tbsp of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed etc)
1-2 tbsp grain mustard
½ tbsp garam masala
350-400 gr goats cheese, crumbled feta or sliced halloumi (I used Rocamadour goats cheese)
Spinach, rocket leaves or mixed salad to serve
Heat the oven to 180 C
Mix the garam masala with half the reserved tomato oil in a bowl. Season with S&P. Add the vegetables except the tomatoes and toss to coat. Transfer to an oven tray and roast for 20-30 mins or until nicely cooked and a little charred at the edges.
Meanwhile rinse and cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, using the stock instead of water. The quinoa is cooked when the liquid is absorbed and the grains have released their outside into little tail-like rings, about 15-20mins. Don’t overcook, or it will go soggy.
Turn off the heat and leave covered with a clean kitchen cloth to allow any remaining moisture to escape.
Grill the goats cheese or halloumi if using.
Make the dressing by mixing together the tahini, the lemon juice, the remaining oil from the tomatoes, mustard and S&P to taste. Add a little water if it is too thick
Mix the quinoa with the vegetables, the tomatoes, the dressing, chopped herbs and mixed seeds.
Make a bed of greenery on 4 plates. Add plenty of quinoa salad and top each with grilled goats cheese, halloumi or crumbled feta. Scatter over a few toasted pine nuts.
Any left over quinoa salad is great eaten cold for lunch the next day, either on its own, on some greenery or with crumbled feta and pine nuts mixed through.