Salads as a child tended to be the fairly dull wedges of iceberg lettuce, chunks of tomato and cucumber, with the occasional addition of some crisp green capsicum, slivers of red onion and a sprinkling of sprouts. Generally splashed with some vinaigrette. Vastly different from today. In fact, the only time I bought iceberg lettuce in recent years was when dad come for a visit as it was the only lettuce he liked. Having said that, the old iceberg is pretty good when drowned in a blue cheese dressing. Dad’s favourite.
But I digress.
I was asked yesterday for some salad ideas that are more substantial than just a green salad. Two of my favourite ingredients for a salad are couscous and quinoa. And I generally use them interchangeably.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is the seed of a pseudocereal (which means it comes from a broadleaf plant rather than a grass, which most grains come from) that originated in South America. It’s gluten free, and it is a complete protein source as it has a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a great alternative for coeliacs and vegetarians/vegans. It also tastes great – slightly nutty – and is delicious used as an alternative to oats in porridge or rice in creamed rice (yuk!) or as a savoury dish.
|Quinoa is cooked in a similar fashion to rice – using the absorption method|
|Cooked quinoa has a white edge around it with a translucent centre|
This salad is pretty simple, and can be either an accompaniment to meat or fish or a meal on its own.
What you need:
1 cup raw quinoa
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup of pepita seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped basil and/or Italian parsley (about a bunch)
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1/2 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into thirds
1 piece of preserved lemon, finely chopped (optional)
juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
cracked black pepper
What to do:
- Cook the quinoa according to directions on the packet. Once cooked, put it into a large bowl to cool
- Dry-fry the pepita and sunflower seeds – I just do this on the stove in a fry pan with no oil. It takes about 2 minutes, but be careful to watch them so they don’t burn
- Steam the asparagus – I do it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
- Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, add all the other ingredients and mix together.
- Serve as part of a meal – I love it with BBQ chicken or lamb.
|Beautiful orange balsamic (left) and blood orange olive oil (right)|
What are your favourite summer salads?