Orange-scented quinoa salad with pistachios and dates

Another beautiful healthy and tasty Summer salad. I can’t have enough of these and am always looking for more of these interesting recipes. We love eating them with a piece of marinated and barbequed fish or chicken.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.03.50 AM

Serves 4

6 oz (175 g) quinoa or red quinoa, rinsed
1 oz (30g) shelled pistachios
5 tbsp 70ml) fresh orange juice, plus finely grated zest 1 orange
4 tbsp (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 scant tsp Dijon mustard
6 green onions, very finely sliced
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 large bunch watercress, tough stalks removed
10 ready-to-eat dates, chopped
Optional- goat cheese or Greek feta cheese to toss through or sprinkle over it

Bring 3 cups (500 mls) water (or 1/2 water and 1/2 broth of your choice) to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook for 18-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and spread over a large plate to cool.

Meanwhile, in a dry frying pan, toast the pistachios until fragrant and starting to brown. Cool, then coarsely chop.

To make the dressing, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, mustard and vinegar and season well.

To assemble the salad, put the quinoa in a serving bowl and toss with half the dressing. Fork through the orange zest, green onions, herbs, watercress, dates, chopped pistachios and enough of the remaining dressing to coat. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or dressing if needed, then serve.

Mediterranean quinoa salad

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list. It’s a very easy salad to prepare and will be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten.
I absolutely adore quinoa and if you also like it, not only is this recipe great, these two other quinoa salad recipes below, also on this blog, are terrific.

I sometimes make these quinoa salads in double quantities and have them in the fridge for a week, adding chicken or salmon to them if we fancy, or just having a small bowl of it with some home made soup. The beauty of this salad is that you can change up the amounts of the vegetables and can replace or add with other things you like. Basically, play with it! I have also given you a few ingredients that are optional.
It’s very healthy, very filling without piling on the calories and soaks up the flavors.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 10.30.29 AM

Easily serves 4 and can be augmented.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1x 15oz can of garbanzo or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes,chopped or 4 oz sliced sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half lengthways
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 medium English cucumber, seeded and chopped
5 scallions, chopped or 1 medium red onion, chopped
4 oz roasted red bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped,
1/4 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 green chili, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

Dressing ingredients (you may not need it all)
4 tbsp good olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, optional
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp red chili flakes, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the stock and bring to the boil. When boiling, turn down low to a simmer and put a lid on. Let it simmer on low for about 12 – 15 minutes until it becomes fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed. You will begin to see the “germ” of the grain appear on each piece of quinoa.
Remove from the heat,fluff with a fork and allow to cool with the lid off. (I sometimes tip it out onto a baking tray and spread it out to dry and cool a bit, it works faster this way)

In a very large bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add the cooled quinoa to the salad.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and add about 3/4 of the dressing to the salad. Mix together really well, season with salt and pepper and add more of anything you like to get the exact flavor you want. Chill the salad in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving. This gives the ingredients time to “hang out”
This is a very forgiving salad and I sometimes add toasted pine nuts, or raisins/currants to it for a change.

Couscous with dried apricots and roasted butternut squash

Another Ottolenghi gem. I love this combinations of Fall flavors.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
Scant 1/2 cup dried apricots
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
pinch of saffron threads
3 tbsp fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp fresh mint, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Place the onion in a large frying pan with 2 tbsp of the oil and a pinch of salt.
Saute over medium high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pour enough hot water from the tap over the apricots just enough to cover them. Soak them for about 5 minutes, then drain and cut into 1/4 inch dice.

Mix the diced squash with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly colored and quite soft.

While waiting for the butternut squash, cook the couscous. Bring the stock to a boil with the saffron threads. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for about 10 minutes; all the liquid should be absorbed.

Use a fork or a whisk to fluff up the couscous, then add the onion, butternut squash, apricots, herbs, cinnamon and lemon juice. Mix well with your hands, trying not to mash the butternut squash.
taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve warmish or cold