Quinoa & Roast Vegetable Salad October 19 2014

I just love the colour in this salad and think it's a beautiful dish to take to a social event such as a summer BBQ or shared dinner. The flavours of the salad go beautifully with grilled fish, chicken and lamb. Or of course you can have it as a main dish for a vegetarian meal (#meatfreemonday). 

Nutritious and versatile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. Here are a few reasons to include quinoa in your diet.

*This superfood is one of the most perfect grains you can eat as it contains almost twice the fibre content of any other grain.

*Quinoa is a great source of magnesium, which is a vital mineral required to help promote a healthy metabolism and cardiovascular functions.  It’s also kind to your blood vessels, helping you to have a happy heart.

*Quinoa is a rich source of protein and it also contains all 9 essential amino acids, including the rare lysine, which makes the protein levels in quinoa on a par to those found in milk.

*As quinoa has no relation to the wheat family, it’s a great choice for gluten-free folk.  

*Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate, which slowly releases energy. Not only does this mean that it helps regulate your blood sugar levels, but it can actually help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

*Quinoa is fantastically low in fat. What’s even better is that the fats that are found in quinoa are healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, which boost your health levels while helping you lose weight.

Ingredients: 

1 cup uncooked quinoa (red or a mix of colours)

1 cube vegetable stock

2 cups pumpkin, 1cm cubes

3-4 fresh beetroots, 1cm cubes

1 large red capsicum

1 red onion, quartered

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Good quality salt* & freshly ground black pepper

2 cups fresh baby spinach

Wedge of danish feta to crumble over the top (optional, leave out for a dairy free salad)

Green tahini dip (see recipe below)

*Use a mineral rich salt such as sea salt or himalayan pink salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Rinse quinoa a couple of times (I use a sieve and a large bowl).

Dissolve 1 cube of vegetable stock in 2 cups of water, add rinsed quinoa, and bring to the boil. Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes (or according to instructions on the packet). Once cooked, leave to the side to cool while you prepare vegetables and dressing.

Toss the diced pumpkin, beetroot and red onion in the coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Use the remaining oil to coat the whole red capsicum. Place on a baking tray in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until well roasted. The red capsicum should blacken and bubble which is fine (we want this). Once cooked, place vegetables to the side to cool.

Once the red capsicum has cooled, remove skin, seeds, and slice in to thin strips.

Gently combine the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and baby spinach. Present the salad in a colourful bowl or platter and then crumble the feta over the top.

Serve with the green tahini dip on the side. 

Green Tahini Dip

Ingredients

1 cup tahini

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup parsley 

1 clove garlic

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice - use more or less according to taste

crack of salt and pepper to taste

Method

Add everything in to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This makes a thick dip, if you want more of a dressing add as much water as you need to bring it to the desired consistency.