Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1½ cups (white) quinoa

3 cups of water

Bunch of baby beetroot cut into eighths

2 carrots cut into sticks

2 sticks of celery finely chopped

4 spring onions finely chopped

4-6 tomatoes chopped into cubes (I used cocktail tomatoes)

½ cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

½ cup chopped fresh mint

Good splash of red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons of olive oil

Seasoning to taste

Method

Cook quinoa by absorption method on low heat in the water until water is absorbed 10-15minutes. Steam beetroot 10 minutes then add carrots for further 5 minutes, place in a bowl, toss through red wine vinegar, oil, and mint while vegetables still hot. Season to taste. Meanwhile chop the raw ingredients and add to the quinoa when it is cooked. Add the cooked vegetables including the dressing and toss through. Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side dish.

Variations

As the quinoa is a complete protein there is no need to add an additional protein source to the salad. However, for a heartier meal, the salad could be served with cooked fish, meat or chicken. Cooked chickpeas or pinenuts could be added to the salad for a vegetarian option. Leftovers are great for lunch with a tinned fish.

Nutritional Value

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true grain cereal but rather a pseudocereal or more like a seed. It is treated as a grain in cooking and has a lovely nutty taste. Unlike other grains, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids (amino acids that cannot be made by us) making it a complete protein and therefore does not need to be combined with legumes or nuts to "complement " the protein. It has a high protein content of 12-18% and protein in our meals helps us feel more satisfied, provides sustained energy and helps to decrease sweet cravings. Quinoa is gluten free and therefore suitable for coeliacs or those intolerant to gluten.

This recipe is a variation of a traditional tabouleh using quinoa instead of burghal (cracked wheat). It is an EASY nutritious meal which can be thrown together using a variety of cooked and raw vegetables. For example, I used celery but Lebanese cucumber could be substituted, and other vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, or asparagus could be steamed and added or used as a substitute. I chose beetroot because it is one of the richest foods in antioxidants. Carrots are an excellent source of betacarotene and they taste lovely with the fresh mint.