Did you know that quinoa is a complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids? It's also a rich source of B vitamins, a good source of carbohydrates and easy to digest. For these reasons it is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied space flights! If you've had a quinoa fail before it might be because you haven't washed off the bitter tasting saponins on the outside of the quinoa. Lightly rubbing the quinoa under running water gets rid of the saponins and improves the flavour.
With the lovely warm weather we've been enjoying a tabouli salad most nights. I cook a cup of quinoa and use about 2/3 in the salad and then use the leftover quinoa for quick salads for lunch.
I like to serve the salad for dinner with some seared lamb loin fillets marinated in a little lemon and olive oil, perhaps a touch of sumac or smoked paprika. For a portable lunch the next day the salad is delicious with some feta or almonds.
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 1.75 cups of water
- pinch of salt
- generous handful of parsley, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- generous handful of mint, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- two big handfuls of baby spinach
- 4 spring onions, white part only, chopped
- 2 lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways and chopped
- 250g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- Seeds from half a pomegranate (optional)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional, if you don't have it omit, do not substitute!)
- Soak the quinoa for 15 minutes in plenty of water. Drain in a fine wire colander and gently rub the seeds to remove any saponins.
- Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, partly covered. The quinoa is cooked when the grain starts to spiral.
- Drain any remaining water.
- Leave in the saucepan with a clean tea towel or paper towel between the saucepan and the lid for 5 minutes or so. You'll need about 2/3 of the cooked quinoa for the tabouli, the rest will keep in the fridge for 48 hours.
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper. Add half of the dressing to the quinoa.
- Put spinach, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl. Add the quinoa. Toss and add remaining dressing. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds to serve.