Quinoa is my favourite go-to food when I need a boost. This quinoa salad with spring vegetables has to have its homemade houmous. The mild middle eastern spices crave the mellow creaminess of this famous chickpea paste. Use the quinoa salad recipe as an inspiration. It can be a treat for a me-time evening in. When you want to invite your guests to a vegetarian and gluten- and diary free alternative — why not also make super tasty?
Quinoa: Gluten Free and Protein Packed
Quinoa comes from the slopes of the Andes. It is grown as a grain crop, for its edible seeds. Due to it not being a grass it is not a true cereal, and hence quinoa is actually a so-called pseudo-cereal.
In the health arena, quinoa is a super star. Pronounced “keen-wah,” quinoa has more protein than any other grain or seed. Quinoa offers a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own. It’s also a great source of calcium and is high in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. In addition, quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin B and E, potassium, and fibre.
Do you now wonder why quinoa plays a starring role in so many vegetarian and vegan recipes?
While quinoa is technically gluten free, it comes with a warning label if you suffer from allergy. Because quinoa is often packed in environments where they also pack grains it leads to cross contamination. For those with with wheat allergy or celiac disease it can be e a real problem. Read: Is Quinoa a Safe Gluten Free Alternative? – by glutenfreesociety.org For my quinoa salad, I made sure to choose organically gluten free certified ‘quinoa real‘ from Bolivia.
How To Cook Quinoa
Cooking quinoa is easy. Once you know how. There are two methods – just as with rice. Whether you use the plain or pre-toasting method it is advisable to always rinse the quinoa first. To clean, just place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with cold water for a minute or two.
- Plain: Use one part quinoa to two parts liquid. Plain water works fine, but I often add himalayan salt, spices and sometimes an organic broth for extra flavoring. Place both the (drained) quinoa and the liquid in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let the seeds cook for 10 to 15 minutes — or until the water is absorbed, the seed is translucent and the germ is partially detached (it will look like a little feather or spiral).
- Pre-Toasting: Before you cook it as above start by toasting the quinoa. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add spices, garlic, chilli (or whatever you prefer). Add the drained quinoa. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute to let the water evaporate and toast the quinoa. The proceed as above with one part quinoa to two parts liquid etc.
Recipe – Quinoa Salad with Spring Vegetables and Houmous
A recipe is meant to make you want to cook. It should cater to your taste buds, and make you go: Yes! I think this particular recipe does that.
With spring comes asparagus, spring onions and new bell peppers. These little treasures inspired my dinner. Depending on which vegetables are in season, you can of course adapt this recipe to any season.
The mild warming spices cried out for a mellowing friend. Homemade houmous takes no time to make, and here you get a super-easy version without tahini. If you can find quality, fresh houmous in your market – please get it. I prefer not to ever get any shop bought versions, because of the unwanted additives / preservatives.
If you are suffering from food allergy or intolerance you know how tricky it can be. The easiest way is to cook every part of the meal yourself. This recipe will suit vegetarians, vegans, and those that can’t have gluten or dairy.
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Warm Quinoa Salad with Vegetables and Houmous
- 200 g quinoa ( I used quinoa real)
- 400 g water
- 300 g spinach (fresh, small leaves)
- 4 asparagus
- 1/2 bell pepper (smallish)
- 1 carrot (grated)
- 3 spring onions (fresh onions with the green left on)
- 3 cherry tomatoes
- 3 sundried tomatoes
- 30 g raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 chilli (optional but nice!)
- 1 can chickpeas (organic are best!) Save the can liquid, if organic!
- 2 - 4 Tablespoons Water OR can liquid
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cumin, garlic, chilli are optional
- Chop all the Vegetables in smallish bits. Set the asparagus tips aside.
- Fry garlic, chilli in olive pil in a shallow pan.
- Add your spices and chopped vegetables, grated carrot — except the asparagus tips — and let them soften for approx 5 minutes.
- Add the re-drained quinoa and turn with the vegetables for approx 1 minute.
- Pour over the water, add the raisins and the sundried tomatoes and put a large lid over.
- Let it boil for 10 minutes checking now and again that the water is slowly absorbing. Add a bit more water if needed.
- When the water is absorbed, and it all looks shiny, the quinoa has developed small 'tails' taste and adjust salt and spices.
- Turn off the heat and throw in the asparagus tips, as they will cook while you're serving.
- Get your serving plate ready with the fresh baby spinach - and Enjoy!
- Place chickpeas in a food processor / blender together with salt, spices (if you want them), lemon juice and olive oil.
- Set it to slow setting and let the ingredients work themselves into a paste.
- Add the water OR the liquid from the can until the houmous is as smooth, creamy as you like it. Some want their houmous thicker - so use less water/liquid in this case.
- Serve as a main meal, or as part of a buffet. Adjust the quantities to suit your group / family. The houmous can easily be frozen, so go ahead a make a bigger batch. Enjoy!
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