Over the past few months I've been experimenting with different healthy foods and as a result, have come up with some recipes that I am now making more often than not! So, I hope you will enjoy the upcoming blog posts that have more of a lifestyle focus. First up, is my take on a Summer Superfood Salad. This recipe makes a perfect lunch for a warm summer day, or a fab a side dish at a BBQ. It's light, healthy, packed with protein and fibre and most importantly, flavour. It's such a simple recipe and once the quinoa is prepared, it takes minutes to put it all together.
Just a quick disclaimer, I am by no means a professional chef(!) and this recipe along with any others I share are simply my own recipes that I really enjoy. I hope they will inspire some of your own flavour combinations and to get creative in the kitchen!
The base for this salad is Quinoa (KEEN-WAAH for those who, like me, are regularly confused by the pronunciation). This trendy superfood has been on the front page of the foodie's magazine for quite a while now and it really is such a great grain to cook with. It contains more protein than any other grain or seed and is also praised for it's high nutritive content of iron, calcium and B vitamins. What's more, it tastes scrummy. With the Quinoa, I've tossed dried fruit, fresh fruit and feta cheese to create a combination of flavours and textures that I think, is wonderfully delicious.
1 Cup of Quinoa (I use about 125g)
1 Red Onion
1 1/ tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch of Salt
1 Granny Smith Apple
70g Dried Cranberries
150g Feta Cheese (I like to use the Apetina Feta Classic Cubes)
(Makes two to three servings.)
1. Prep the Quinoa by rinsing thoroughly, using a fine mesh strainer. Then, the rule of thumb for cooking the superfood, is to add 1 cup of quinoa to a pan of 2 cups of simmering water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and looks slightly translucent. Then remove from the heat, strain if necessary, fluff up with a fork and finally, leave to cool. (Scroll down for my tips for cooking quinoa.)
2. Whilst the quinoa is cooling, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Finely chop and add the red onion, cooking until it becomes tender and the edges start to brown. At this point, add a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
3. Lastly, chop the apple into small cubes and toss with the cranberries, raisins and feta cheese. Once the quinoa and balsamic onions have cooled to room temperature, simply toss them with the ingredients above and enjoy!
Three Tips for Cooking Quinoa:
1. DONT FORGET TO RINSE THOROUGHLY! Quinoa has a bitter coating which needs to be washed off before it is cooked, otherwise the flavour is affected. Just make sure you use a fine mesh strainer!
2. As I have said above, the rule of thumb is 1 cup of Quinoa to 2 cups of water (or stock). However, I have found that I prefer the Quinoa when I cook it with about 1 1/2 cups of water, as opposed to two. So if I'm using 125g of gain, I tend to measure out about 190-200ml of water to cook with. This still gives a tender result but also prevents it from becoming soggy and I find I don't need to strain it after cooking.
3. Leave it to stand. After cooking, fluff up the Quinoa with a fork and then cover the pan and leave it to stand for a further 5 minutes. It really makes a difference!