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April 4, 2011 / amyjmcintosh

Simple seasonal salads

Quinoa salad with roasted beets, chickpeas and orange

In case you hadn’t heard, quinoa is the new star in my kitchen. And I only recently worked out that it’s not pronounced like it’s spelt. It’s “keen-wa”. Go figure.

According to the fabulous Gluten-free Goddess (whose blog you must check out if you haven’t already), quinoa is the easiest no-fuss grain you’ll ever cook. She describes it as a healthy fast food. Think of it as couscous for ceoliacs. That’s right, it’s gluten-free. My only complaint is it’s expensive, so I’m going to look into buying it online to see if it’s any cheaper.

The easiest way to cook it is in a rice cooker. For those of you who don’t own one, drop everything you’re doing right now (including reading this blog) and go and buy one. Apart from my Soda Stream, salad spinner and hand blender, it is the best kitchen appliance I have ever bought. In fact, I could devote an entire blog post to spouting the virtues of the humble rice cooker. But anyway, back to the quinoa recipes.

In my quinoa travels, I’ve come across two seasonal salad recipes that I really must share. Both contain seasonal ingredients and make great lunchtime dishes for the working week.

1. Quinoa salad with pears, baby spinach and chickpeas in a maple vinaigrette

Quinoa salad with pears and baby spinach

This recipe hails from the Gluten-free Goddess. I love this salad as much as I love my Ugg boots (and that’s a lot). Pears and pecans are a winning duo – like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the food world. And the dressing makes my taste buds sing (not literally) thanks to the addition of maple syrup (which you could substitue for agave syrup which is another one of my new favourite ingredients). If you don’t fancy pears, you can use apples instead. How cool is that? Thank you, Gluten-free Goddess. I think I love you.

2. Quinoa salad with roasted beets, chickpeas and orange

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Valencia oranges and beetroot are in season right now (for those of you live Down Under), so it’s the perfect time at give this salad a whirl. I’ve been making it on a Sunday night and taking it to work for lunch. Just keep the dressing separate and pour it on when you’re ready to eat it.

My top tip for buying beetroot is to ask the grocer to remove the stalks (unless, of course, you have a compost heap that you’re wanting to feed). When it comes to cooking beetroot, I recommend chopping it up into relatively small pieces to speed things up a notch as mine too eons to cook. The recipe calls for three cups of quinoa, but I think 1.5 cups is more than enough. Bon appetit!

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