It’s summer. It’s hot. Hot summer life is far too fleeting to spend ages in the kitchen but also one of the worst times to resort to cruddy over-salted convenience food too. I try to counteract the burgers and ice creams is by making up a couple of substantial salads to keep in the fridge for throughout the week so I have a healthy option on hand without too much fuss.
I’m not the world’s biggest quinoa fan, but I’ve recently discovered the Tri Colour quinoa in Aldi which has a bit of variance in the texture that stops it becoming the slimy mush pile your standard quinoa tends to make, or at least that’s how I tend to make it. And I’m glad to have found it as quinoa is high protein and all kinds of good for you and pretty thrifty at £1.29 a pack. I’m still not crazy about it served plainly but it makes a good solid salad base and pairs well with sharp flavours and crunchy textures to counteract the potential blandness of quinoa alone. Any vinaigrette will work to dress this- I use the base salad dressing from Gizzi Erskine’s Skinny Weeks Weekend Feasts book swapping the dijon mustard for English to give it some proper kick. For the same reason I use a good amount of sumac with the quinoa as it cooks which leaves a subtle flavour and makes the water pretty and pink!
Boomboom Quinoa Salad
1 cup tri colour quinoa
1tsp sumac (optional)
2 sticks celery
5 Spring onions
500g vine ripened or plum tomatoes
4 tbspns pitted black olives
1 bunch coriander
1/2 a cucumber
Vinaigrette to dress- I use olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice and English mustard.
Place the quinoa with 4 cups of water and the sumac (if using) in a large pan and bring to the boil with the lid on. Simmer until the quinoa is just tender- you will see the thinner stringy part of the seed detach and float to the top just before it is done but this takes about 10-15 minutes.
Take off the heat and strain immediately into a good solid sieve. Leave to air dry for ten minutes before rinsing well with fresh water, then give it a good shake and leave to drain for another ten minutes.
Chop all of the other ingredients to bite sized pieces then mix well, dress and serve immediately. Do taste before adding any more seasoning as most olives are seasoned or in brine so you could end up over salting this salad quite easily. This is a great vegan dish for those on the Meat Free Monday wagon but also goes as a lovely side with a roast chicken or alongside your BBQ. Keeps for 4-5 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Variations- you could use vegetable stock if you don’t have/like the sumac to flavour the quinoa. This will work with most veg or fresh herbs just make sure you get plenty in there so you have more or less half and half quinoa to veg by volume. Try using parsley, kohlrabi, peppers etc.