QUINOA SUMMER SALAD

QUINOA: A GREAT GRAIN FOR THE WARM WEATHER

Quinoa is slightly bitter. This makes it a terrific grain for summer.  Another positive is that it is very quick and simple to prepare. These days, of course, it is also very easy to BUY.

It is an extremely versatile grain that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch &/or dinner. I find it lighter than whole oats or rice and definitely less “solid” than oat porridge. It can be paired with savoury or sweet foods or, as with the recipe given here, a little bit of both.

Like many grains, quinoa can be cooked in advance and stored for some days in the fridge. Because it tends to be fluffy, however, it is particularly good for re-heating in a steamer. Although it’s a good idea to stand by with a fork to fluff it around a bit as it heats up.

AMARANTH: that other summer grain

“Amaro” (the liqueur) literally means “bitter” in Italian and this grain is another excellent summer food. It can, however, be a bit more difficult to find. Also, because the grains are so tiny, it’s not as easy to work with as quinoa. You need a really very fine sieve, for example, to thoroughly wash and strain amaranth.

That said, you can substitute amaranth in pretty much any recipe designed for quinoa – including the one below.

PREPARING QUINOA

  • Measure out your volume of grain (in this recipe 1 cup) and tip it into your saucepan. Add plenty of water.
  • With just-washed hands, swirl it around very thoroughly – changing direction, rubbing the grain with your fingers, etc.
  • Pour the saucepan contents into / through a fine mesh strainer. Then rinse the grain under running water.
    NOTE: the washing and rinsing reduces the bitter flavour of the grain.
  • Put the quinoa back in the saucepan and add twice the volume of water (i.e. for 1 cup of quinoa you add 2 cups of water … to give 2 cups of cooked grain).
  • Put the saucepan on a high heat with the lid on and keep an eye on it as it comes to the boil.
  • Lower the heat so that it can simmer. Add a good pinch of rock salt then leave with the lid on for 15 – 20 minutes.
    Turn off the heat & remove the pan.
  • You may want to leave it to sit (lid on) for 5 minutes. But this is not essential unless there is some excess water in the pan and you think the quinoa could absorb more.
  • At this point you can taste the grain and, if you are planning on eating it as is, add your seasoning of choice.
  • Use a fork to stir the cooked grain and fluff it up a bit. Try to get all the grain loose and fluffy in the pan. Leave to cool or serve, depending on the dish and the meal.
  • Leave to cool or serve immediately, depending on the dish and the meal.

NOW FOR THE RECIPE

This dish is particularly good for Summer and Late Summer with its inclusion of chickpeas, sweet corn and some bitter greens. The sweet & sour mustardy dressing also adds a lot of zip.
It takes around 25 minutes to prepare and feeds 4.

I have adapted the recipe – and borrowed the picture – from a blog called Recipe Runner. You can find the original recipe HERE.

INGREDIENTS

SALAD

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup chopped Lebanese cucumber (for freshness) or thinly sliced zucchini (for an extra bit of bitter)
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped capsicum – preferably yellow
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked, rinsed and drained cool
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh greens: baby rocket, basil or watercress OR a mix
  • Fresh ground rock salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

DRESSING

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (maximum – use your discretion and your taste buds) seedy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (maximum) honey
  • Fresh ground rock salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Find a jar, with a tight fitting lid, that holds at least twice the volume of the combined dressing ingredients.
  • Put all the dressing ingredients in the jar and seal the lid on. Give the jar a very vigorous shake (as if making a cocktail) until all the ingredients are properly combined.
  • Pour the contents over the salad and mix (gently) until everything is coated.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Serve immediately either in the same bowl OR on a large platter.
    Alternatively, cover and put in a cool place (possibly the fridge) for later.

FURTHER IDEAS FOR QUINOA SUMMER SALAD

“The” recipe above is really just one of many recipes. There is actually no end to what you can do with quinoa (or amaranth) in a summer salad. To say nothing of how you can experiment with the dressings. This simple grain is a versatile foundation.

You could experiment with:

  • fruits (incl. olives),
  • nuts and seeds (particularly toasted ones),
  • beans/legumes,
  • dairy and, of course,
  • different vegetables.

THIS BLOG POST has 21 recipes for quinoa summer salads.
So there are bound to be at least a few that appeal.

SUMMER EATING MORE GENERALLY

For other tips on how best to eat while the weather is hot visit my
SUMMER RESOURCES PAGE

Alternatively, come and see me and we can discuss how you could adapt your diet to maximize on the season.

Book in for a (late) SUMMER SHIATSU

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