The first time I ate quinoa was one of the greatest ingredient discoveries of my life. It’s been said that the most delicious foods are often the worst for us or at least to be eaten in moderation. In many cases I have to agree, wouldn’t it be great if eating chocolate all day, peanut butter and jam sandwiches and freely adding vegan butter to mashed potatoes was good for us?
It’s not always the case though of course, I happen to love my vegetables, not just because they’re so good for me but because they are flavourful, colourful, versatile things that always cheer a plate of food up. Can you imagine a plate of plain white rice with no flash of green or orange? Food would be dull and lifeless without vegetables. Some vegetables are even on par on the excitement scale with treats like chocolate – offer me a bowl of nutmeg wilted spinach and golden mushrooms in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other – it’ll take some deciding.
Quinoa, for me, is also one of those foods. A superfood and delightful to eat. I love how the miniature pearly beads soak up so much flavour and add a wonderful texture to any meal, plus the ultimate quality of versatility. This amazing seed can be cooked like a grain, made into croquettes and crispy baked balls, made into a breakfast or dessert porridge, added cooked or raw to baking recipes and even ground into a flour. What’s more is its incredible nutrient rich composition offering a source of complete protein, omega-3, calcium and antioxidants (to name a few).
To celebrate this fabulous food, here’s a recipe to mark the International Year of Quinoa IYQ – 2013.
Ingredients: Serves 2
For the Quinoa Balls:
- 40g raw quinoa (please make sure your quinoa is from an ethical source)
- 200ml low sodium vegetable stock (made up according to package instructions)
- 1 dry egg replacer (e.g Ener-G or Orgran or other cornstarch without the added water)
- 1/2 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 small leek, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 30g fresh coriander
- 20g sesame seeds
For the Dressing:
- 10g vegan mayonnaise (you could use soya yoghurt or ‘sour cream’)
- 1/2 tsp harissa
- 1tsp soy sauce
For the Salad:
- 90g salad leaves
- 200g asparagus
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- For the quinoa balls, saute the leek and carrot in a little of the stock or cooking spray over a low-medium heat for about 5 minutes then add the quinoa and the remaining stock. Add the chopped coriander stalks.
- Cook for about 20 minutes, adding a touch more water if it simmers dry, until the quinoa is soft and all the water is absorbed.
- Leave to cool slightly and preheat the oven to 200’C/400’F. Stir in the harissa, egg replacer and chopped coriander leaves.
- Shape a heaped tablespoon of the mixture into balls and coat in the sesame seeds, place on the lined tray and bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden.
- Meanwhile mix together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust to your liking.
- Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and add the asparagus, cook, turning regularly until tender and charred in places.
- Add the tomatoes to the griddle pan for a few minutes to blister the skin and warm them through.
- Divide the salad leaves, tomatoes and asparagus onto serving plates then top with the quinoa balls and drizzle with the dressing.
Low in saturated fat
Very low in cholesterol
High in dietary fiber
High in iron
High in manganese
High in magnesium
High in phosphorus
Very high in vitamin A
Very high in vitamin B6
Very high in vitamin C