Use your grain
Some of you might remember the couscous craze of the early nineties. Everything was based on the tiny semolina balls that resemble a grain, all the fashionable recipes used it. Nowadays it seems like quinoa is the one that has the right of passage to our every other dish. Restaurants have added it in many prominent ways, even home delivery menus provide it. And what a great little gem it is! Packed with goodness, it only takes a small amount to fill you up with B vitamins and good protein.
I know this recipe I am posting today sounds too familiar, but I can’t help playing around with quinoa… It is so versatile that you can do anything with it. Create a warm side dish with mushrooms, use it as an alternative to rice for the classic Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers dish called “gemista”, or as a fresh and juicy salad like this one, that keeps fresh and tasty even on the next day.
Quinoa is a great team player that sets your culinary imagination free and wild. Just add a nice combination of seasonal vegetables and herbs and you got yourself a new recipe each time. Since this is pea season and avocados are always a great idea, especially when paired with basil and chives, brace yourself for this lemony fresh dish that will thrill you with its freshness and tangy deliciousness. If you are worried that the mustard in the dressing is too strong and it might cover up any other flavor, don’t be. It becomes such a velvety, understated key note when mixed with maple syrup, you won’t even realize it is the one ingredient bringing all the tanginess of the salad forward!
Lemon Herb Quinoa with Spring Peas, Avocado and Basil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in cold water
2 cups water, cold
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
½ avocado, cut into small cubes
3 spring onions, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
¼ cup shelled hemp seeds (optional)
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. For the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa. In a medium saucepan add the rinsed quinoa to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. (Note, at this time put the peas on to boil as well; see number 4, “For the peas” below)
2. After bringing the quinoa to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and while cooking leave the lid of the saucepan slightly ajar. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is plump, the water is absorbed, and the tiny outer “shells” of the quinoa grain start to come loose in the pot.
3. Remove quinoa from the heat and let it stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
4. For the peas: While the quinoa is cooking, boil the peas until tender. Drain and set aside.
5. Quinoa mixture: In a large bowl mix together quinoa, peas, avocado, spring onions, basil, chives, and hemp seeds.
6. For the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, sea salt, and black pepper.
7. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture, and serve warm or cold. This dish keeps very well (although the basil might turn a little dark) in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
TIP: Hemp seeds may be optional but they are a sensational power food that will upgrade this dish to whole new levels of goodness.
Serves: 4 to 6 as a side dish