Friday, January 28, 2011

Spanish-inspired Quinoa Salad - Quick & Easy # 8

Spanish-inspired Quinoa Salad 1

This is another one of those dishes from my "Quick and Easy" file.  These dishes are of course, as the title suggests, quick and easy to prepare, but they are also dishes that I consider to be very free-form - they're conceptual rather than confined to a strict recipe.  They are meant to inspire you rather than direct you - quantities are unimportant, and you should use this as a guideline only.  Vary quantities according to what you have on hand, or feel free to swap out any ingredients according to your tastes.

At the risk of offending half the population of Spain, I have called this a "Spanish-inspired" quinoa salad, but please note that "inspired" is the operative word here.  Even though quinoa, basil, feta and rocket (arugula) have all found their way into this, my original inspiration came from a handful of ingredients that I always associate with visits to Barcelona - chorizo sausage, white/butter beans, tomatoes and olives.  I often make a salad of just these four ingredients, but when thinking about ideas for Make it with ..... Mondays challenge quinoa it occurred to me that, by adding some quinoa and a few other ingredients, I could turn this simple salad into a quick but substantial meal.

Begin, by cooking the quinoa.  Rinse thoroughly first.  Put one cup of quinoa in a pan with two cups of liquid;  set pan over high heat and bring to a boil;  turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from heat, allow to sit covered for about 5 minutes, then fluff up with a fork.  

On this occasion, I used mushroom stock as my liquid, but you could use any other kind of vegetable stock or chicken stock or even just water.  The mushroom stock gave it fantastic flavour, and has now got me thinking that you could maybe cook the quinoa risotto-style and make a great mushroom risotto - I see an experiment coming up.  But I digress.

Put cooked quinoa into a serving bowl.  Add a couple of chopped tomatoes, a tin of drained and rinsed butter beans (or cannellini beans or chickpeas), a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves (or flat-leaf parsley or coriander), and a handful of mixed olives.  Drizzle over a bit of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

Heat a good slosh or two of olive oil in a saute pan over high heat.  Slice up some chorizo sausage, add to the preheated pan and cook until the chorizo is browned and starting to "caramelise" around the edges, and has rendered out a lot of its fat.  This fat will be rich with the smoky flavour and aroma of paprika, and is going to help make the dressing for the salad.  Add the sauteed chorizo and all of the pan juices to the salad bowl.

Spanish-inspired Quinoa Salad 3

Toss well.  Taste and then adjust according to taste - adding more vinegar, oil, salt, pepper or herbs as may be required to suit your palate.

Add some chunks of feta cheese (or goat's cheese or blue cheese or Manchego) and peppery rocket (arugula) (or spinach or watercress) leaves.  Serve while still slightly warm or at room temperature.  Leftovers refrigerate well, but it is best brought back to room temperature before serving.

You could make this gluten-free, by replacing the chorizo with chunks of gluten-free sausage, or even some shrimp or squid instead, and replacing the vinegar with some lemon juice.  I hope you'll let your imagination run wild and give this a try.

Spanish-inspired Quinoa Salad 2

This post is a contribution to Make it with ... Mondays challenge quinoa - the linky is still open until Monday 31 January, so keep your quinoa posts coming, and don't forget to check out this week's special ingredient which is paprika.

Make it with ..... Mondays

I'm also sharing this post at Food on Friday hosted by Carole at Carole's Chatter.

16 comments:

  1. Great salad. I need to eat more quinoa..it's so good for you.

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes quinoa is incredibly good for you. I need to eat it more often too, and when I make dishes like this I wonder why I don't do just that.

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  2. This looks delicious - all those colours and flavours and good things :) I like to cook things inspired by various cuisines, but it's definitely good to remember to called it x-inspired :)

    I haven't eaten quinoa in a while, although I do have some quinoa flakes that I like to throw into muesli, bread, etc. I'll have to get back into it...I like the idea of cooking it like a risotto!

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    1. Thanks, Laura. Yes, my travels inspire many dishes, but that's exactly what they are "inspired" rather than authentic. I've never tried quinoa flakes - I obviously need to be on the look out for those.

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  3. quinoa salad looks delicious with beautiful colours

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    1. Thanks you so much, and thanks for visiting.

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  4. quinoa is something I haven't used much in salads - actually I don't make it often enough altogether - but I love this idea for salad - I would sub something for the chorizo - possibly sundried tomatoes which might make it more italian than spanish!

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    1. Johanna I think sundried tomatoes would be a great sub for the chorizo, and really if that tips the scales a little more in the direction of Italy I don't think that matters. You could really sub in all kinds of alternatives for just about any ingredient in this salad, which might steer it towards another cuisine, but you will still end up with a great dish.

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  5. I cook with quinoa quite often but never tried making a salad with it. :O

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    1. Quinoa is great for salads, tigerfish. It stands up to just about any kind of flavourings you can throw at it, it can take robust dressings, and it keeps well.

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  6. I think chorizo adds such a delicious flavour to almost anything. This looks really tasty. I also like your idea of using quinoa to make a risotto. I might experiment with that idea.

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    1. I'm with you on the chorizo, Corina - fantastic flavour. I still haven't tried the risotto idea out, but I'm sure it would work and would take a fraction of the time to cook that a traditional risotto takes.

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  7. The salad is colourful and can imagine all the lovely flavours out there, u'm seeing the whole lot of recipe here now for me to try this is so much in-detail about the cooking procedure, thanks Sue :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Ananda - I hope you enjoy it.

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  8. This has become one of my favourites! I've added it to my dinner repatoire.

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    1. Oh, Nicole, I'm so thrilled to hear that - it's certainly a regular in my house :-)

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