Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Vinaigrette
Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Vinaigrette

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Vinaigrette

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    Serves 6
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I find quinoa fascinating, I still treat it as a new found ingredient even though it’s been in my store cupboard for two years now and sold in most supermarkets.

At first I thought it would be a quick cook like the wonder couscous, where you add hot water and it is ready in a flash, but no you must boil it as you do with pasta. I’m not sure if I am disappointed as the preparation is not snappy, however cooking it for 15 – 20 minutes is not that time consuming and it gives me enough time to prepare the rest of the ingredients and make a delicious vinaigrette.

If you cook quinoa it’s got a fairly pale and un-appetising look so I add a teaspoon of turmeric to the boiling water to stain the quinoa a bright yellow colour, perfect for summer.

What is Quinoa? It originated from South America and from the goosefoot specie, a grain like crop mainly grown for its seeds. Quinoa is closely related to beetroot and spinach and has great nutritional value and can be eaten either hot or cold in salads or as part of a main meal or in soups. It’s also makes a delicious high power breakfast mixed with honey, almonds and berries.

This salad is perfect for the lunch box, packed with protein and slow releasing energy. Quinoa has a nutty taste and for that reason I added this lemon tahini vinaigrette. The lemon lifts the nutty taste and the tahini gives the salad that roasted sesame flavour.

This salad is one of those that matures well, I like to make a large quantity and take some to work the following day. It goes a long way and is perfect for large number of people at a BBQ or a picnic.photo of Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Vinaigrettephoto of Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Vinaigrette

Ingredients & Method

Quinoa Salad

  • 100g quinoa
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 100g cooked and drained chickpeas
  • 100g cooked and drained haricot beans
  • 2tbs sliced pitted green olives
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2tbs chopped parsley
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 carrot shredded or coarsely grated
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and sliced
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Lemon Tahini Vinaigrette

  • 1tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 25ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbs tahini paste
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Cook the quinoa. Fill a large pan with water and season with salt, bring the water to a rapid boil and add the quinoa and turmeric. Stir the quinoa regularly and ensure the water boils rapidly throughout the cooking process. Cook the quinoa like pasta until tender but still with a light al dente bite about 15 – 20 minutes.

Drain the quinoa using a fine sieve and refresh under cold running water. Leave to drain.

In the meantime make the vinaigrette. Measure all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a jug of a blender and blend until smooth, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Keep the vinaigrette refrigerated for up to 5 days if you do not use it all at once.

Mix the cooled and drained quinoa with the rest of the ingredients and add the vinaigrette to taste, do not add all the vinaigrette as it is too much. I like to serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side so that guest can add more if they wish.

Cook’s Note
What is Tahini? Think peanut butter, only made with sesame seeds. Tahini is made by soaking sesame seeds in water for a day, then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are put into salted water, where the bran sinks, but the kernels float and are skimmed off the surface. They are toasted, then ground to produce their oily paste. There are two types of tahini, light and dark, and the light ivory version is considered to have both the best flavour and texture. You can buy tahini from most good supermarkets, delicatessens or health food stores. Tahini is most closely associated with the Middle East and is used to make hummus, baba ghanoush and halvah.