Friday, March 21, 2014
Jerusalem Inspired Quinoa Salad
I first made this salad in the depths of the cold misery that was February, and it was a godsend, like it had been lightning-beamed into my brain from a better place, a place with warmth and sunshine and people with glowing skin. (Like California, basically, is what I guess I'm saying.)
But listen, this salad, it will do wonders for you. Back in February I was in that kind of winter slump where you start to feel like your body is turning into a snowsuit, as if you and the million layers you've been wearing for the past four months have started to become one, to the point that you're not even sure what your body really looks like anymore but aren't prepared to find that out because you are only prepared to strip off all your layers in the event that you are presented with a hot tub, and that's not going to become a reality, so SADNESS and resignation to being your sweater-suit self ensue.
Enter this salad. It has quinoa (everyone's favourite "super food" that used to fuel the Inca civilization, but hey - did you know that after the Spanish conquest, they banned the cultivation of quinoa because it was "peasant food" and enforced the cultivation of wheat (which was oh so de rigueur)? Oh how the tables has turned. Quinoa's made a Leonardo DiCaprio comeback and wheat has been fucked sideways by over-cultivation and the media. I'm totally picturing a dialogue between quinoa and wheat in which quinoa's all, "LOOK AT ME NOW, BITCH." So yeah, this parenthetical note has gone on way to long and yes, sometimes I anthropomorphize plants.), chickpeas, fresh herbs (the herbs are essential, because with them, every bite is like WOWFLAVOUROHMYGODMYTASTEBUDSFEELSOALIVE), veggies and all other good things that you could want in a salad that not only give it nutrition but kapow-esque punches of flavour.
This salad was like a glimpse of summer during a time that I was wearing snow pants full-time, and even now that winter is almost over (spring is official, DAMN IT), its bold, fresh flavours are as welcome as ever.
Jerusalem Inspired Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem
Crunchy, salty, tangy, and with a touch of sweetness, this salad covers all the bases. It also happens to be delicious, filling, and damn good for you too.
1 cup uncooked quinoa*
1 cup dried chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked)
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup currants or raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, seeded & diced
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta (optional)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
salt & pepper to taste
4 - 6 full servings
*I used red quinoa, but any variety will do.
1. Soak your chickpeas in a large pot of cold water with 1 teaspoon baking soda for 6 hours or overnight, then drain and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil over high heat, covered, then remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook the chickpeas until they are softened but still hold their shape, about 30 minutes. (Be sure to test them before removing them from the heat.) Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water, then set aside.
2. Place the quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of water, cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl, then set aside to cool.
3. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spread the sesame seeds out evenly on a baking sheet, then toast in the preheated oven for 6 - 10 minutes, or until they are slightly darkened in colour and emit a rich, nutty aroma. Set aside to cool.
4. Prep the rest of your ingredients, then them together with the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and toasted sesame seeds in a large bowl. Drizzle with the fresh lemon juice and toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days.