This isn't the prettiest salad in the world, nor is it particularly groundbreaking. It is, however, quite disgustingly healthy - so it was precisely what I needed this week. Sitting one one's bum in harsh lights of the library all day every day, breathing in the recycled air of all the germ ridden & exhausted students around, doesn't exactly make one feel at their prime physical peak, so this salad was ideal for making me feel all virtuous and superior and like I was really taking good care of myself. I had it as a side with one of my halloumi & vegetable burgers, and it was a filling, healthy & delicious meal which made going back to the library after dinner just that liiiiittle bit more bearable.
If you've got even a little bit of interest in food, you'll know that quinoa is one of the health foods at the moment, and has been for a while - like kale, spinach, blueberries, avocado, etc etc. It's one of the most protein-rich foods it's possible to eat (for all those who wonder where vegetarians or vegans get their protein, this is a good answer), and is also packed full of fibre, iron and magnesium. Low in fat, high in goodness, and endlessly versatile, it's no wonder stuff is constantly doing the rounds on health food blogs. However, I'll let you in on a little secret... It's a little bit dull. Now, I know this is the thing that food bloggers aren't supposed to admit, but I can be real with you guys, can't I? Quinoa's like, fine. It's not particularly offensive and when it's that good for you I'll obviously eat it, but it is a little bland, and a little uninspiring. So I've been looking for a way to spice quinoa up for a while now in a way that's simple, tasty, and that doesn't break the bank. This salad ticks all three boxes. Basil, oregano, nutmeg, spring onions, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper are tossed into this cooked quinoa along with some spinach and warmed cherry tomatoes for an easy and nutritious side which takes about 25 minutes to prepare, and which will have you feeling totally justified in eating that entire chocolate cake for pudding. After all, this is health food, you guys. Vegan, gluten-free, low in sodium, bla bla bla... You practically burn calories by looking at it!
To make enough for 4 as a side, or for 2 as lunch, you will need:
- Approximately 1 cup of uncooked quinoa.
- A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes.
- A few handfuls of baby spinach.
- A tiny sprinkle of nutmeg.
- A teaspoon of dried basil.
- A teaspoon of dried oregano.
- 1 clove of garlic.
- A few spring onions.
- Salt & pepper.
- A tablespoon of olive oil.
- Lemon juice.
1. First, cook your quinoa. Measure out a cup and pour into a pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer, put a lid on the pan & cook for about 20 minutes. You'll know it's done when most of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is creamier in texture - though it should still have a little bit of bite.
2. Once the quinoa is cooked, drain it and set aside for the moment. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat.
3. Peel & chop your garlic clove, then chop your spring onions. Add them into the pan and fry together for about 2 minutes.
4. Add the drained, cooked quinoa to the pan & stir together.
5. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half & add to the pan. Stir it all together and warm through for around 3-4 minutes, until the tomatoes are warm.
6. Add in your spinach, lemon juice, nutmeg, basil, oregano, salt & pepper and stir it all together. Wait until the spinach has wilted down a little, but not so much that it loses its shape, and serve warm.