Quinoa and Pepper Salad

img_4599tThis has become one of my staple lunch options. It’s straightforward and fairly quick to make, and you can switch the different items based on what you’ve got around. This recipe is based on Anna Jones’ ‘At Your Desk Salads’ (from A Modern Way to Cook) – which is an excellent chart of ingredients in six different categories that you can mix and match to create a salad. So the base of this is quinoa, with pepper, spring greens, cornichons, pumpkin seeds and a pesto dressing. I won’t list all of the various options here, but another variation I’ve done recently is brown rice with carrot, lettuce, sesame seeds, capers and a soy sauce/maple syrup dressing.

A Modern Way to Cook has rapidly become one of my favourite cookbooks. In the past I have bought recipe books and cooked one or two things out of them, and then they just sit on the shelf, very occasionally used. So for a while I have refused myself cookbook purchases because it’s not worth paying about £25 for a couple of recipes. This time though, I found the book in the library, and I took it for a test run before investing. For the longest time I didn’t even realise my library had cookbooks, and now I know I think I will always borrow before buying. We cooked out of A Modern Way to Cook pretty much solidly for a week, and I realised that it was going to be a worthwhile investment, because there’s so many new, different (and quick!) recipes to try. Not eating meat has meant I’ve had to invest a fair amount of time into looking at what else I can eat that is good for me, balanced and healthy, and this book is possibly one of the best I’ve come across (also Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which will be discussed at a later date).

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Anyway, the recipe:

for 1 person

50g quinoa (dried)

1 small pepper (or half a medium/large one)

a few cornichons

a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds

5-6 leaves of spring greens (or a couple of handfuls of spinach)

for the dressing:

2 tsp pesto

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Cut the pepper into large strips and lay face down on a baking tray, drizzle with a little sunflower oil and then bake for 20 mins until soft and blackening.
  2. Cook the quinoa – bring it to boil in about 150ml of water (add more if it dries up before its finished cooking). Whilst the quinoa is cooking, steam the greens over the top, or in a separate pan with a little water in the bottom.
  3. Mix together the pesto, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. Then assemble! Once the ingredients are cooked, lay quinoa at the bottom, and top with pepper, greens, some chopped cornichons and pumpkin seeds, then drizzle dressing over the top. When I’m making this for lunch I put the dressing and seeds in tiny jars to add when ready to eat.

If you’re worried about the environmental implications of consuming quinoa, or you just want to buy locally, then try Hodmedod’s, who grow delicious organic, wholegrain quinoa in the UK. They do a bunch of other grains, beans and flours as well, and they also have a super cute hedgehog as their logo. You’re welcome.

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