This is a light, tasty salad that I make variations of all throughout the year, substituting different seasonal vegetables for the broccoli and green beans. It is a great salad to bring to a barbecue, to serve as a starter or to serve along side your main meal with some slight variations. For example, if you increase the amount of mint and leave out the cheese you could serve it with spring lamb, or just leave out the cheese and it is delicious with some baked monkfish or fresh mackerel. Topped with marinated lightly fried tofu it makes a dairy-free, vegetarian and yet high protein meal.
Quinoa, if you are not already familiar with it, is a seed, though it cooks like a grain. It comes from central America and is used as a substitute for bulgur wheat, couscous or rice, though it is a lot more nutritious than any of them. It is has a very high vitamin and mineral content and is a complete protein which means it includes all 9 amino acids. It cooks in 15 minutes, is gluten-free and has a slightly nutty flavour and a very light texture. In Organico Café we use Quinoa in soups, chillies, and burgers as well as in salads.
So – on to the recipe! You can vary the amounts of herbs, or substitute different ones depending on what is available to you, and as for the veggies – later in the summer roast pumpkin or butternut squash works really well as do roasted peppers and tomatoes, so feel free to play around with the ingredients.
A nice salty crumbly cheese makes a good contrast to the Quinoa; I really like St Tola’s soft Goat’s Cheese or a good quality feta cheese. St Tola’s is an Irish cheese from Galway that has a distinct flavour so you can use less of it than you might a milder cheese. If you opt for feta I would avoid the ones packaged in plastic and instead try the Real Olive Stall on Fridays (or come up to Organico – we sell their feta all week round!). Your salad will taste much better.
1 small head broccoli
150g green beans,
1 bunch radishes,
150g Feta or St Tola’s soft goat’s cheese
150g cherry tomatoes (look for organic or local ones with a good sweet flavour)
½ bunch basil,
½ bunch mint,
½ bunch parsley,
50g each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds,
Tablespoon soya sauce.
1 Tbsp pesto,
4 Tbsp olive oil,
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (Aspall make a very tasty organic one)
Salt and Pepper
Start by placing the Quinoa in a fine sieve and rinsing under running water. Then into a sauce pan adding a cup of water to each cup of Quinoa. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then lower heat and cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes. Tip out into a bowl and leave to cool.
Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan on a medium heat for a few minutes. Watch them carefully as the oil in them can burn easily. When they have slightly browned, pour a tablespoon of soya sauce into a bowl and tip the hot seeds into it and mix, then leave to cool.
Cut Broccoli and beans up into bite sized pieces and blanch in boiling water for a few minutes until they have cooked but still have a bite. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking any further.
Cut up cherry tomatoes and radishes in to quarters.
Chop up basil, mint and parsley. Add 2/3 to the salad and the rest to the dressing jar.
Make dressing by first dissolving the salt in the vinegar in a jam jar, then add the honey and mix in, then add the pesto and olive oil, giving everything a final shake.
To assemble the salad, mix the cooled Quinoa, herbs and vegetables together then add the feta crumbling it in your fingers. Mix in the dressing and finally add toasted seeds on top.