In part three of a two part series I never intended on writing, here is yet another quinoa salad recipe. What’s happened with these is that as the year has gone on I’ve changed the dish depending on what’s in season, with the only constant being the grain and a yoghurt based sauce. And given spring is about six weeks late this year, it seems appropriate to post this when it’s nearly summer.
I wanted to keep the salad pretty fresh so I left the fennel raw and thinly sliced (a mandolin is really helpful here) and there’s lots of lemon juice and preserved lemon for a bit of zing. To balance things I used some fabulous Apitherapy honey I bought in Fallon & Byrne because, even with the natural sweetness of the fennel, everything can be a bit too tart otherwise.
The quinoa I used has three different colours: red, black and white and while I didn’t really notice a difference in taste it does add another layer of colour to go with the radishes and green vegetables. I made a big effort to preserve as much of the latter’s colour as possible, using a combination of vacuum bags, blanching and an ice bath, because nothing says spring – in June – quite like a plate full of vibrant greens.
For the mint yoghurt
150ml Greek style yoghurt
½ clove garlic, minced
30ml olive oil
5ml lemon juice
15g mint, finely chopped
For the quinoa salad
8 asparagus stalks
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
10 radishes, halved
1 hot green chilli, finely chopped
10g preserved lemon, finely chopped
10ml lemon juice
2.5g black pepper, ground
15ml olive oil
- For the mint yoghurt, in a bowl, mix the first five ingredients together and then season to taste. Reserve.
- For the quinoa salad, in a wide pan, toast the quinoa over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the quinoa to a pot with 300ml of water and 5g of salt.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a bare simmer.
- Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add some oil.
- Add the spinach and sauté until just wilted. Reserve.
- Fill a bowl with iced water and seal the asparagus tips in a vacuum bag.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the asparagus.
- Cook until crisp but tender, around 2 minutes.
- Remove from the pot and plunge the vac-pack into the iced water.
- Add the peas to the water and cook for 2 minutes.
- Strain the peas and put them in the ice bath.
- When the quinoa is done, remove from the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes.
- Remove the asparagus from the vac-pack and slice into bite-size pieces.
- Add the asparagus, along with the peas to the frying pan with the spinach.
- Reheat the vegetables and then pour into a large bowl.
- Add the quinoa, fennel, radishes, chilli, preserved lemon, lemon juice, honey, black pepper and olive oil.
- Mix everything thoroughly and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Divide between two plates and serve with the mint yoghurt on the side.