Recently I’ve started using a lot of quinoa. Believe it or not I had a bag left over from our Crispy Salmon Fajitas that we made AGES AGO and I rediscovered it in the big box of ‘non-perishable food’ that we left behind before we went off travelling. Turns out that, even though it’s a ‘whole food’ – what does that even mean? – that you only really see in the section of the supermarket you’re too scared to go in or on restaurant menus, it’s dead, dead easy to cook and use in every day meals. Like, pasta kind of easy. Whack it in boiling water until it goes clear in the middle, or is ‘al dente’. Boomtastic. So, I’ve come up with 3 easy ways to integrate quinoa into normal meals.
One portion of quinoa for me (maybe I’m a pig, but who cares) is about half a cup or 75grams. If it’s a side then use less, if you’re super hungry then use more.
Quinoa Bowl w/ Salmon, Tomato & Avocado
Two days before I ate this delicious combo for lunch, I cooked salmon fillets for dinner. I always cook 2 at a time – not because Chris doesn’t go near salmon with a 10 foot stick and it’ll go out of date otherwise – but because it’s fantastic cooked, chilled and then plonked on top of a salad a few days later. I flaked up my salmon and mixed it into some cooked quinoa with chopped tomatos and avocado. Simples and delicious.
Butternut Squash, Pulled Pork, Feta, Avo & Quinoa Salad
I take a packed lunch into work every single day and it can get so frustrating trying to make something that isn’t a sandwich. When I decide to diverge from the standard cheese and cucumber sandwich and make myself a salad to take to work I’ve always gotten to lunchtime and nearly cried as I watch other people guzzle down warming soup and filling pasta or sandwiches whilst I leave my lunch hour* hungrier than I started it.
*lol kidding, more like 15minutes most days.
For some unknown reason (I blame/thank 2016) I’ve rediscovered the power of leftovers. So much so that I have deliberately started cooking too much at the weekend just to be able to fill my lunches up with leftover goodies the next week.
I used the pulled pork recipe from my favourite new book ‘Whole Food Slow Cooked’ by Olivia Andrews. I originally found the recipe in The Times and loved it so so so so much that I bought the whole book. The Times link is here, although it doesn’t show the whole recipe.
I also had leftover butternut squash roasted with sage & black pepper. You can use whatever meaty or veggie leftovers you like but the combination of the smoky/sweet pork with the salty feta and creamy avocado was just a match made in heaven. Whack your goodies on top of a leafy salad (I piled on coriander as well cos it’s not my food heaven and I love it) and a layer of cooked quinoa and you’re good to go.
^ this was unbelievably delicious. even my crappy iPhone 5 camera made it look fit.
Roast Chicken w/ Lemon, Pine Nut & Olive Quinoa.
I’m well on my way to perfecting roast chicken. I mean, it’s difficult to cock up but if someone offers to cook it for me and presents me with a soggy skin I’d probably kill them and definitely unfriend them on Facebook. The key to excellent, crispy chicken skin is not-too-much oil (I use rapeseed) and PLENTY of salt. Proper salt. Maldon; nothing else compares.
^ SO MUCH YUM. I picked all the skin off and I’m not even ashamed of it. *smugface*
Anyway, this isn’t about the bird, it’s about the grain. The quinoa salad with this chicken is the perfect accompaniment; it’s flavoursome without being too overpowering so perfect for white meat. I expect the delicate lemon and pine nut would be overpowered by something like beef or lamb.
You will need:
Enough quinoa for the people you’re feeding
zest of 1 lemon
a sprinkle of pine nuts
green olives (you could probably use black olives but I’m not a fan)
To give your quinoa a bit of a flavour boost you can cook it in chicken or veg stock. Whilst the quinoa is cooking, half the olives, zest the lemon and toast the pine nuts. Once all of that is done whack it in a bowl and, when the quinoa is cooked, drain, fluff it up and mix into the lemon/olive/pine nut mix. Top with a little squeeze of lemon (don’t drench it) and some wedges to garnish if you’re being swish.
I served my dinner with steamed french beans.
This tastes just as good the next day for lunch – chop some crispy lettuce, a dollop of hummus, the fresh quinoa salad, leftover chicken and a crushed boiled egg. Super filling, super healthy, protein packed dinner and lunch the next day.