Quinoa superfood salad

So I’ve been taking time out recipe planning, testing and playing with my new toy – my Canon 700D dslr. I have no words to share my excitement, I’m definitely loving it. As a recent vegetarian convert (it was a long time coming because I rarely ate meat and is one of the best decisions I’ve made), there’s definitely more of a need for me to prioritise my diet even more and get as much nutrients and goodness from non meat sources so for me, Quinoa was the obvious choice to start implementing. It’s a complete protein and lends itself to being gluten-free and easy to digest, so it’s a great alternative to standard brown rice or wholewheat pasta. Good carbs, hello!

Quinoa is one of those grains I’ve been meaning to cook with for a long time so coming up with this recipe was quite a fun task. I love vegetables (no, really) so I’ve thrown in a super delicious mix of superfoods to bulk this salad out so its nutrient rich and substantial for a main meal or light lunch. I even have this warm; just be sure to put the avocado and goats cheese on after you’ve heated it up! If you need a pick-me-up come mid week, definitely try this one! Your body will thank you later.

For the salad:

  • 150g dry quinoa – black and red varieties also work well
  • Half a butternut squash, de-seeded
  • 1 small red onion
  • 10-12 small broccoli florets
  • 1 small Romano pepper
  • Handful of mange tout
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lemon
  • Crumbled goats cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g of almonds
  • 1 red birdseye chilli
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Olive oil and vegetable oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Serves 3-4 | Prep: 5 mins, Cooking: 25 mins

Step one: Simmer 150g of quinoa on a medium heat for 15 mins. Two parts salted water to one part grain.

Step two: Heat up the vegetable oil in a wok or large deep pan then chop the butternut squash into small cubes, skin on. Fry them first for 5 mins til browned and softened.

Step three: Chop the remaining veg into even small pieces; red onion, red pepper, chilli and broccoli florets. Leave the mange tout whole. Crush the garlic cloves too. All veg prepped!

Step four: Add the garlic and chilli to the pan, along with the seasoning and soy sauce. Then add the vegetables and a splash of water and cook rapidly for 5 mins.

Step five: The quinoa will have soaked up all the water and be fluffy but still with defined texture. Pour into the pan and stir til well mixed. Add the whole almonds and drizzle everything with olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat.

Step six: Peel, de-stone and chop the avocado into small chunks and crumble the goats cheese over the salad to serve.


 

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Chunky authentic guacamole

No Mexican fare is complete without this delicious side. It has to be one of my favourite things to eat at any time of day, whether it’s partnered with spicy fajitas, piled onto melting cheese nachos or simply spread on thickly sliced toast – a personal favourite. Made right, this is comfort food at it’s best and it’s super healthy. Avocados do have one of the highest fat and calorie contents a fruit can have, but it’s all good healthy fats to make you glow. Your hair, skin and nails will thank you for this one.

The first trick to making a decent guacamole is using ripe avocados. It sounds obvious enough, but people often get this part wrong. You’ll know they’re ripe if they give a little when squeezed. If it’s under-ripe, it’ll be firm and quite unappealing, almost bitter to eat. I always get my avocados fresh from a market stall because they usually have better quality, size and price over regular supermarkets. One of my favourite local fruit and veg markets is Kingston’s Ancient Market in the suburbs of London – a quaint historical location, friendly traders and great value – I’ll do a post on my favourite London markets soon.

In true form, this recipe uses all the classic flavours that go into a tasty homemade guac and there’s the second trick – salt for balance, crushed garlic for a kick, diced tomatoes for freshness, chilli for heat, spring onions for texture, lime juice to cut through the rich buttery avocado and good quality olive oil to bring everything together. That’s it! It’s such a simple recipe but will bring your meals to life with vibrant green colour, fresh flavours and a beautifully creamy texture. Try it with my American sweet potato pancakes – it’s a dreamy combo. If you’re not keen on avocados, you’ll be hooked once you’ve made this guacamole.

Serves 2-4 | Prep: 10 mins

For the guacamole: 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1/2 a fresh chilli
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

Step one: Run a sharp knife along the middle of the avocado, around the entire fruit til it meets the start point. Twist in opposite directions with your hands and it should come apart, stone intact. Use a sharp knife to tap and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl and mash gently. Tricky part, done!

Step two: Chop and remove the flesh of the tomato then dice into small chunks. I ended up using half of the tomato because they’re quite big and juicy, but you could add more if you wish. Chop the spring onion and crush the garlic cloves. Add all three ingredients to the avocado.

Step three: Season to taste with salt, pepper, chilli, a good squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix everything together, but not too much as you want some texture remaining.

Step four: Garnish with a few spring onions and chilli flakes, then devour.