A big thank you to Alexandra from It’s Not Complicated Recipes for letting me share another one of her amazing recipes. What I love about Alexandra and her mum Faye’s recipes is they are fool proof. I really enjoy cooking, but I am not the greatest cook, so I need a recipe that works – I promise you all of theirs do!
Alexandra has converted this popular Middle Eastern salad into a vegan and gluten free version, so I’m very excited to share it with you. I love quinoa and use it instead of rice and also in salads. It’s highly nutritious and is a complete plant protein. It’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans as it contains all 9 amino acids, lots of fibre, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium too. It comes in three colours; the most popular is white, but it also comes in red and black too.
Quinoa is cooked by an absorption method,* similar to a method used for rice. After it cools, dress it with olive oil and lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients and season to taste. It keeps well for a few days in the fridge, as the flavours develop even more over time.
I eat this for lunch, sometimes with pomegranate seeds on top, or as a side dish with dinner. I also find if I keep a bowl of this in the fridge, I’m less likely to grab bad snacks. In this cold weather I need lots of healthy prepared foods and snacks, otherwise I head straight to the cookie jar. Eating a high nutrient dense diet is great for warding off all those colds and flu, and we need to stay healthy as Christmas is coming!
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed well *
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 3 spring onions finely sliced - the white and a little of the green part
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley loosely packed very finely sliced *
- 250 gm cherry tomatoes quartered
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the quinoa in a fine meshed sieve and rinse well under cold running water, swishing the quinoa with your hand. Drain the quinoa well.
- Pour 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the seeds are tender. When they’re cooked you will notice they have little curly “tails”.
- Remove from the heat, place a clean tea towel or 3 layers of paper towel over the saucepan, place the lid back on and stand 5 minutes. The tea towel/paper towel will absorb excess moisture.
- Place in a bowl and leave to cool.
- Mix well and check the seasoning, adding lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Serve either at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.
- This salad is even better the next day as the flavours have developed.
- *Cooking the quinoa by the absorption method just means that the quinoa will absorb the amount of water used. Make sure the quinoa is well drained after rinsing.
- *It is important to thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Rinsing helps remove the outside coating of the grain, called saponin, which can cause a slightly bitter taste. The saponin is a naturally occurring chemical which is there to deter insects.
- *The amount of lemon juice is determined by personal taste and the strength of flavour of the variety of lemon. I use 3 tablespoons of lemon juice as I like it to have a bright, lemony tang.
- *Commercial parsley has sometimes been standing in water so I cut off the lower part of the stem. I also remove very coarse stems but leave the rest on. You need a sharp knife to very finely slice the parsley. Don’t chop too vigorously, you will bruise the leaves.
- Please don’t use a food processor to chop the herbs, it will bruise them.
Stay tuned as Faye, Alexandra’s mum is trying out some vegan mince pies recipes for me next week – I can’t wait!