Switching to the summer menu: Middle Eastern quinoa salad
As we move from one season to another, it seems appropriate that the food we consume changes as well. After a long winter of comfort foods and stews, I like to move on from these dishes to meals with fresher ingredients that can be cooked outside.
As I have gotten older, I have started thinking a lot more about the type of foods that I eat: where they come from, are they balanced, are they healthy and are they organic. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat the things I once did, but it does mean that I am more conscious of generally eating better. So when super grains became popular and the health aspects came to be recognized, I decided that it was something I should incorporate into my diet. My wife supported the idea of eating healthier, although the thought of meals without traditional starches took some convincing.
As we started using quinoa more often, it became a regular side. It was easy to make in a rice cooker and you could tweak the flavours. My favourite variation is to cook the quinoa in chicken stock. As we started to make it a primary ingredient in our meals, so the quinoa salad was born. In addition to being a quick meal, with minimal “cooking,” it became a mainstay of our weekly meal rotation.
The best part is we can add different ingredients each time we make it based on how we are feeling that week. This is great to ensure meals don’t get boring, and that you continue eating healthy.
middle eastern quinoa salad
1 cup quinoa
1 shallot, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup dates, finely diced
1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette (1 part lemon juice, 2 parts olive oil)
2 chicken thighs, deboned
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp each: cumin, coriander, turmeric
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Cook quinoa according to directions.
Combine quinoa, shallot, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, dates and lemon vinaigrette. Let this mixture sit for 30 minutes.
As quinoa sits, season chicken with salt and pepper. Barbecue the chicken till fully cooked. Remove from heat and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Combine chicken with quinoa mixture and seasonings. Quinoa salad can be served warm or cold. Add parsley.
Match: Serve with a citrusy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.