Tuesday, 16 July 2013

a recipe - quinoa, chia seeds, beetroot, goats cheese

Oh goodness me..

Looking back at the photos of my quinoa and chia seed salad (below) simply fill me with nostalgia. Those were the days - the days when my digital camera was still alive and clicking (haha, get it? Clicking?)

My friends, family and followers on Instagram will know that my beloved digital camera chose to mutiny against me early last month.

It had been a gift for my 21st birthday (which was a hundred thousand, gazillion, trillion years ago) but I'd only really started to use it in recent months to take photos for my Instagram account. Then, one day, it decided it no longer wished to serve me.

It would not turn on.
At all.
That day,
Nor ever again.

And that was that.

It was a very sad day.

I'm not saying my recent photos (taken with the iPad) haven't been half decent. All I'm saying is, these photos that were taken with the digital camera were more decent.

Sad sigh.

Anyway. Moving on.

I created this vibrant, delicious salad a few months ago (when the weather was much warmer, and the natural lighting made photography much easier). I didn't post it immediately because I wanted to reserve it for 'the right time' - and it seems that time has now arrived.

My last post focused on the merits of quinoa, and the post before that explored chia seeds - two of my favourite superfoods (although, granted, my list of favourite superfoods is very lengthy).

Here I have a dish that celebrates both of these amazing foods.

You can keep it vegan by omitting the goats cheese (or replacing it with a vegan cheese), and if you aren't vegan but you don't like goats cheese, try using another creamy, salty cheese - feta or haloumi (oven- baked or pan- fried) would be ideal.

If you're the sort who needs some animal protein with your meals, you can easily add some good quality meat (just try to use organic meat if possible. Why? It's explained in great length in my posts 'an introduction to eating 'clean' - why choose organic' and ''eating clean' - how to choose organic'). The flavours in this salad are lively, light and fresh, so white meat will complement it better than red.

In addition to being a gorgeous salad (just have a look at that pretty thing!), it is also full of nutrients. There are ingredients in it that will help to nourish your body - detoxifying, antioxidizing (not really a word, but you get my point), strengthening bones and enhancing eye health, as well as a host of other benefits.

It has a low glycaemic index, is high in protein and good fats, and contains complex carbohydrates to provide you with a sustained source of energy.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a shot, and let me know how you go. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this dish!

a fresh quinoa and chia seed salad + roasted beetroot + marinated goats cheese
serves 4

1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup organic quinoa - rinsed and drained well
2 cups organic vegetable stock
4 tbsp organic chia seeds
4 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 & 1/2 long telegraph cucumber - peeled, seeds removed and diced (to yield 2 cups)
2/3 cup sliced spring onion
1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs, chopped finely
1 and 1/2 cup grated carrot
4 beetroot
marinated goats cheese, to serve - I used Meredith Dairy brand
ground sumac powder

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Put the raw almonds into a baking tray and bake on the middle shelf for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chopping roughly with a sharp knife. Increase the heat of the oven to 200 deg C.

2. Place the quinoa into a saucepan over high heat and stir frequently for approximately 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Pour the stock over the quinoa and stir. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and leave for approximately 15 minutes, until the quinoa has almost completely absorbed the stock. Add the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and leave to cool down.

3. Meanwhile, put on gloves and don an apron - or be very careful not to stain your skin and clothes! - and use a vegetable peeler to peel the beetroot. Line a baking tray with baking paper or aluminium foil. Use a sharp knife to thickly slice the beetroot and arrange in a single layer in the baking tray. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the beetroot is cooked through (it should be easily pierced with a fork or knife).

4. Whisk together the olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Depending on the brand of vegetable stock you have used, you may also need to add a pinch or two of (preferably organic Himalayan or Celtic) sea salt, to taste. Pour the dressing over the cooled down quinoa and chia mix, and stir well to combine thoroughly.

5. Add the diced cucumber, spring onion, dill, grated carrot and half of the chopped almonds to the quinoa and chia mix, and toss well to combine.

6. To serve, spoon the quinoa salad onto serving plates and top with roasted beetroot slices, crumbled goats cheese (if using), the remainder of the chopped almonds and a sprinkle of ground sumac. Best served immediately.

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