Summer. The weather’s so hot, the last thing you feel like doing is slaving over a hot stove, cooking. Green smoothie for dinner? Hmmm, don’t know about the guys in your house, but mine wouldn’t be too happy. What to do? Quinoa Salad! It doesn’t take a lot of effort (especially with the Thermomix), you can pretty much chuck in whatever’s in the fridge (bonus: it’s different every time!), and everyone likes it. (Well, except for the pine nuts in this one – my eleven year old picked those out… Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.)
This salad ticks all the boxes – quick, easy, healthy, yummy and there’s lots of variations possible. Sometimes I add meat – chicken, tuna, or salmon – sometimes I leave the meat out. Eggs are optional too, but are an easy filler. You can try different dressings – for my quickest of quick versions, I just drizzle over some balsamic vinegar and my specially good extra virgin olive oil that I save for salads, plus a little herb salt. Other times I use my homemade mayonnaise
, which is made with seeded mustard, honey, garlic and herbs. Beck from Thermosisters
made a version with a dressing consisting of flaxseed oil, garlic, seeded mustard and honey. Yum!
Just a note on quinoa (pronounced ‘KEEN-wa’): I’ve had some people comment that they don’t like quinoa as it has a bitter taste. If the quinoa you are using is bitter, it needs to be well soaked and/or rinsed to remove the natural saponins coating the seeds. Quinoa grown in Australia is usually sold un-rinsed, whereas quinoa from Peru or Bolivia is usually pre-rinsed and ready to use. If you have Australian quinoa, follow these guidelines before cooking:
– Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer for 1 to 2 minutes under running water, the evening before using it, then soak in a bowl of water overnight.
– In the morning (or before cooking), rinse again under running water for another minute.
If you follow these steps, you shouldn’t have a problem with bitterness.
So here’s my ‘chicken & pumpkin’ version of quinoa salad – see what other variations you can come up with.
Quinoa Salad, Thermomix Style!
- 350g quinoa, weighed when dry
- 500g water
- 800g water
- 4 eggs, preferably organic free range, well rinsed
- 3 chicken thighs, cubed
- 250g pumpkin, sliced thinly (about 5 mm)
- a bag of mixed salad greens or baby spinach
- sun-dried tomato strips
- kalamata olives
- thinly sliced shallots or red onion
- boiled eggs, quartered
- cubed sheep or goat milk feta (optional)
- Weigh dry quinoa into a bowl and cover with water, then set aside to soak for 7-12 hours. Drain and rinse in a fine seive under running water. Or, if you're in a hurry, pour boiling water over quinoa and let sit for 10 mins or more, then rinse.
- Weigh water into Thermomix bowl, place quinoa in steamer basket and insert into bowl. Place eggs on top of quinoa in steamer basket.
- Place the lid on the bowl, with Varoma on top, and place chicken and pumpkin in Varoma dish, leaving some spaces for the steam to get through. Cook for 20 minutes, Varoma temperature, speed 4. (Check chicken and pumpkin in last five minutes of cooking time and break apart with the spatula so it cooks through evenly.)
- When the quinoa, chicken & veges are cooked, remove eggs from quinoa (scraping off quinoa from shells) and peel and quarter eggs.
- Prepare salad ingredients in a very large salad bowl.
- Add quinoa, chicken and pumpkin to salad ingredients. You can wait until they're cool if you like, or use straight away for a warm salad.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a good quality cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, or whatever dressing you prefer.
- Sprinkle with toasted seeds and serve. I like a mixture of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until they're starting to pop, then drizzled with tamari and toasted a little longer. They give a lovely 'crunch' to salads.
Quirky Cooking https://www.quirkycooking.com.au/
Another variation we love is smoked salmon, avocado, olive, sun-dried tomato or cherry tomatoes and baby spinach. What variations do you like to make?
Share your versions in the comments below!