I’ve started a lunch swap at work with a colleague of mine. On Mondays (or sometimes Tuesdays), I bring lunch lunch to share with her, and on Thursdays, she brings lunch to share with me. My colleague is vegetarian and can’t eat wheat or dairy, which makes life a bit more challenging, but it’s also kind of good, because I think it’s healthy to be vegan and gluten-free once in a while!
This week’s lunch was going to be quinoa tabouli, but when I got to the shops on Monday night, they were out of mint and flat-leaf parsley, which are kind of a necessity. So I looked around the supermarket to see what they *did* have, and found coriander and basil and zucchini and roasted peppers and tomatoes and corn … I had limes and curly parsley and quinoa and spring onions at home, so I thought this might be the basis for an American-inspired sort of salad.
It’s pretty good, actually. Lovely and fresh and terrifyingly healthy – and yes, it’s vegan and gluten-free and quite high in protein from that quinoa. A good lunch for a sticky, humid day…
Your Shopping List1/2 cup quinoa, any kind 1 cup water 3 small white zucchini or 3 large pattypan squashes 2 corn cobs 1 small chilli, optional 6 spring onions (the kind that look like overgrown chives) 400 g assorted cherry tomatoes 1 bunch coriander 1 bunch parsley 10 basil leaves, or thereabouts 1/2 cup roasted peppers juice of 1 lime salt, pepper, olive oil
Now what will you do with it?
Put the quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft enough to eat and has lots of little curls coming out of it. When it’s done, add to a large salad bowl. Incidentally, this salad is nice either warm or cold – if you want to serve it warm, just keep on mixing in ingredients as they are ready. If you prefer it at room temperature, I’d stick it into the fridge now so that the quinoa can cool down, and do the same after you add the cooked vegetables.
Slice the zucchini and spring onions, finely chop the chilli, if using, and remove the corn from the cob. In a small frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the zucchini, spring onions, corn and chilli, and sauté until the zucchini is soft and the corn golden in places. Scrape into the salad bowl.
Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Finely chop all the herbs and the roasted peppers. Add all of this to said salad bowl, and mix well.
Pour in the lime juice and mix again. You might add some more olive oil at this point, but you don’t have to.
Eat, feeling healthy.
I can’t think of any variations for this one, or rather, the variations are so infinite, I can’t really tell where to start. You probably could make this low fructose by choosing your vegetables wisely, but it wouldn’t really be the same salad. You could use lemon juice instead of lime, of course, and black beans would be a nice addition which would make the salad heartier. I’ve already mentioned the optional chilli.
The essence of this salad is really quinoa, herbs and zingy citrus, with a few vegetables pointing the direction to the appropriate cuisine. I suspect you could choose just about any cuisine you liked – oregano, parsley and mint with lemon juice to make it Greek, and then perhaps you would add cucumber and fennel and chickpeas instead of corn. If I knew anything whatsoever about Thai food, I’d suggest a variant based around thai basil and coriander and lemongrass and lime, and maybe Vietnamese mint, but I’ve no idea what sort of vegetables one would then add. I suspect there would be nuts, though. Go, experiment with your favourite flavours – just make sure you use lots of herbs so it doesn’t wind up bland.
I’m entering this salad into the Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food: Substantial Salads Challenge… mostly to see if it works.
This time last year…