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Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa is an ancient grain and was once considered ‘the gold of the Incas’ in South America. All but forgotten, it is coming back into vogue on a global scale. Like most whole grains, it is a great source of fibre, but what makes it really special, in my book, is that it is a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids (important for tissue building).

Specifically, it is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc and iron. While most of us look to animal based protein sources such as meat and cheese for our daily intake of protein, quinoa provides a good option for people following a vegan diet who might feel slightly limited with beans, nuts and tofu.

An obvious substitute for pasta, rice or couscous, you can buy quinoa in all health food shops (and thankfully, it’s gaining shelf space in many supermarkets). Rinse it before cooking to get rid of its bitter outer layer, then simply cook it like rice until it is light and fluffy. For added flavour cook it in fish, chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.

In salads, it is terrific served with grated raw vegetables (beetroot and carrots being my favourites) with sautéed sliced red onions and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Tabbouleh is a great crowd-pleaser of a salad, full of freshly chopped herbs. Though traditionally made with bulghur in the middle east, I made this quinoa tabbouleh for a family buffet and was reassured when my 80- year-old aunt returned to the table for second helpings.

Ingredients

Serves four

  • 150g quinoa
  • 400mls water
  • Pinch salt
  • Half cucumber, skin on, diced small
  • Half courgette, coarsely grated
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 25g fresh mint, leaves chopped
  • 25g flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
  • Pinch paprika
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve, rubbing your fingers through the grain until the water runs clear.

Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, transfer the quinoa to a wide bowl. Stir in the cucumber, courgette, tomatoes, red onion, mint and parsley until fully combined.

Next stir through the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and paprika. Season to taste.

Recipe Source: Vanessa Greenwood in the Irish Independent

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Fennel and orange salad

Ingredients

  • 2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed and thinly sliced (reserve the leaves)
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • salt and pepper

Method 

  • When chopping the orange, reserve the orange juice to mix with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange layers of orange, onion and fennel. Drizzle over the dressing and garnish with plenty of fresh mint.

Source: Irish Independent

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