Deli Quinoa Salad

Deli Quinoa Salad

Deli Quinoa Salad - IMG_9270.jpg

(Prep time – 30 minutes maximum / serves 6 to 8)

Quinoa is a wonderfully adaptable seed that acts like a grain, absorbing flavors very well. It is also a superb plant form of protein. This salad is a whole, satisfying meal in itself. Facing the gorgeous variety of olives, sundried tomatoes and artichokes at my local deli, I imagined combining a variety of those delicacies with my favorite nutrient-dense, high protein, pantry staple – quinoa. I hope you enjoy the flavor and color of this tasty, quick to make salad. It tastes even better the next day, making it an ideal "take-to-work" lunch.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked quinoa (having added 1 heaped teaspoon of dried Italian herbs to water when cooking it and ½ tsp salt)

1 cup chopped, drained artichoke hearts

¾ cup pitted olives, chopped into pieces – you can use the same variety or two different kinds

3 Tbsp capers, rinsed well whether in brine, salt or vinegar and chopped finely

½ medium-sized Spanish onion, sliced very thinly, or a small bunch of spring onions

1 cup/250 g green beans, very lightly steamed

½ cup finely sliced sun dried tomatoes or baby, fresh tomatoes

¼ cup finely chopped Italian herbs, such as basil, marjoram or parsley.  (Rosemary is very tough and isn't really pleasant to crunch down on, although if you combine all the herbs with a little olive oil in a powerful blender, adding rosemary is fine and adds a distinctly Italian flavor!)

Marinated mushrooms – see below *

If you don't add the mushrooms, then make a simple salad dressing using:

¼ cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, ½ tsp herb salt, such as Herbamare, ¼ tsp mustard powder, 1 garlic clove (crushed if not using a blender or whole if using a blender), and 1 tsp honey, blended together in blender or stirred well.

Method

1.   You need ¾ cup of dried quinoa to make 2 cups of the cooked seed. Cook according to instructions below.* You can cool the quinoa after cooking or use it warm.

2.   Add the quinoa to a large bowl.

3.   Simply add the ingredients as you move down the list, chopping them all and stirring as you add them. Best served at room temperature.

Quinoa has a natural sticky coating (called saponin) that needs to be washed off before it can be cooked, although some companies do this initial rinsing before packaging. It is a good idea to rinse well and cook in a little less or double the quantity of water – i.e. 1 cup quinoa with 1½ to 2 cups water. It cooks in as little as 10–15 minutes. If you want it very soft then use double the amount of water, or less for a little "sturdier" bite. Simmer for 10 minutes, removing covered pan from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Do not overcook, as it will become mushy – it is then great as a breakfast porridge. It is light, fluffy and translucent and triples in quantity when cooked properly. The uncooked grain should be stored in the refrigerator as it spoils quickly. Its earthy flavor is great when served hot or cold. By lightly roasting the grains before cooking, you enhance the nutty taste.

Marinated Mushrooms

This is a very simple way to maximize the unique flavor and texture of mushrooms. The great thing is that they make their own dressing while marinating, so there's no extra work when you throw a salad such as a green salad together, because the dressing's already made! There is no cooking involved and the result can be used in a variety of ways. You can easily change the kind of herbs used, or add finely sliced Spanish onion or spring onions to add extra flavor and colour. I love eating them over rocket and watercress as a simple salad, and adding a few macadamias for extra crunch. However you decide to eat them, they are sure to become a staple in your kitchen.

Ingredients

400 g raw button mushrooms, sliced

Juice of 2 lemons

1 large garlic clove

1 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp dried Italian herbs

1 tsp Herbamare (herb) salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg or turmeric

½ cup olive oil

Method

1.   Put mushrooms into a square, shallow, glass container that has an air- tight lid.

2.   Combine all the other ingredients in a powerful blender and whizz for a few seconds until well combined.

3.   If you don't have a blender, simply chop the herbs very finely, crush the garlic and stir into other ingredients.

4.   Pour the dressing over the mushrooms, stir to thoroughly coat them all and leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight, which is even better.

5.   You can use these mushrooms as a great dressing for an ordinary green salad. They are also great on steamed vegetables, baked sweet potatoes or stirred into piping hot pasta with some chopped up sundried tomatoes and basil pesto. I’ve also stirred these mushrooms into a bowl of freshly cooked quinoa, which is lovely too. Have fun experimenting!