A flavourful and zesty salad that includes nutritious quinoa, dried cranberries, chickpeas, toasted almonds and fresh herbs, with a tangy lemon mustard dressing.
I am currently in full swing of wedding planning.
Let me remind you it is now wedding planning 2.0 since my first wedding was postponed due to our friend Covid 19.
So we have completely rethought and changed the entire thing – which has actually been a blessing in disguise! We are able to have an intimate and down-to-earth affair at about half the price, with less stress. So, as much as cancelling a wedding two weeks before was a traumatic process, it did work out in the long run.
The reason why I am talking about my wedding is to try to explain my reason why there are going to be a lot more salad recipes coming up on my blog over the next two months, and very little high calorie indulgences. I am working out really hard and don’t want to nullify all the hard work by having to eat 5 different milk tart experiments in one week (that was literally me two weeks ago! 🤦🏼♀️🐽🥴).
Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’)
If you are not familiar with quinoa, I can highly recommend you get aquainted! Not only is it tasty and versatile, but it is a nutritional powerhouse! Having originated from South America, the Inca’s are known to have called it the ‘mother of all grains’.
Although the way we eat quinoa is similar to how we treat whole grains, it is technically a seed, and so called what is known as a ‘pseudo cereal’.
It is naturally gluten free, has a low GI (glycemic index) and contains more nutrients than most other grains.
Quinoa is high in quality protein, and is what is termed a complete protein. This means that it is one of the few plant foods that contains all 9 essential amino acids!
100g of cooked quinoa contains:
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 4.4g
- Carbs: 21.3g
- Fibre: 2.8g
- Fat: 1.9g
It is also high in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Along with its nutritional benefits it is also quick to cook, and is very versatile so can be used in many ways in both savoury and sweet dishes.
How to cook quinoa
To cook quinoa, simply use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until fluffy.
In this recipe I boil the quinoa in stock as it imparts a savoury flavour, but it can also be cooked in water, or if you want to have it for breakfast, cook it in your favourite plant-based milk.
It is also probably a good idea to rinse quinoa, as I have read it is coated in natural saponins which can cause a bitter taste. Although I have read that most commercial brands pre-rinse their quinoa before packaging, I like to give it a quick rinse before I use it anyhow.
This recipe really couldn’t be easier. Simply cook quinoa, chop some vegetables, make a quick dressing and toss altogether. It is so tasty with the combination of flavours really working well together.
The soft, mildly nutty flavour of the quinoa is offset by the tangy lemon mustard dressing. Added to this the sweet bursts of chewy dried cranberries, fresh, bright tastes of parsley and coriander, and the crunchy toasted almonds. It really is more-ish!
My fiance and I have been eating this as a meal for the last day or so. The quantity in this recipe makes 4 decent sized main meal portions, and is pretty balanced as far as the macronutrient profile goes. There are good carbohydrate and protein sources from the quinoa and chickpeas, a serving of fresh vegetables with the pepper and celery, as well as the fat from extra virgin olive oil and almonds. Last night I served it on a bed of shredded butter lettuce, and tonight I will serve it alongside some steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
This is a salad I will be taking with to braai’s (barbeques) and get-togethers, as it is way more exciting than your regular potato or pasta salad. In fact, I think this will be a really great addition to a Christmas table spread as well!