So I am currently experiencing the manic excitement that comes with having… NO PARENTS IN THE HOUSE.
Which essentially means cooking for yourself.
While I’d say that my culinary skills are slightly better than the average Josephine, I will admit that I rarely do any ‘cooking, cooking’ at home. The reason for this is that it’s much easier to cook for larger numbers, and with mum having a restricted diet due to her health, it’s simply easier to eat whatever she makes. Adding that whenever I insist on making my own meal, having the two of us whipping up a storm in the kitchen makes it resemble a scene out of Dante’s Inferno – cut vegetables everywhere, cries of ‘you’re using the saucepan I need!’ and so forth.
But with the parents gone, I am now free to try any recipes that I like. So with this, there will be a slight variation in the recipes I post over the next month or so – a little less on the baking (as two of my test subjects are now gone) and a little more on the standard (but spruced up!) meals that the everyday cook should be able to achieve. I’m also trying to eat a little healthier while I’m at home as I’ve been eating out a fair bit, which is one of the key hazards of having a social life.
I had spied an article on salads on the Mamamia website a while ago, and what had caught my interest was a quinoa tabbouleh.
Ahhh, quinoa you say. That fad food that everyone is talking about. And, for the record, it’s pronounced keen-wah. Not kwi-noah, like I’ve been doing for the past year.
My first exposure to quinoa was sometime last year when I had it as part of a sweetcorn risotto. It was nice, nothing I particularly noticed, and then this year its begun popping up everywhere.
Quinoa is essentially a grain-like crop that is grown for its seeds. These seeds can be used as a replacement for rice, is high in protein, gluten and wheat-free, and has a fluffy, creamy, and slightly crunchy texture that ‘pops’ in your mouth in the most delightful way.
It’s ridiculously easy to cook as well, and I got a packet of it from the health food aisle of my local Coles for just under $8. So it’s not cheap, but if it’s helping you eat healthy, it’s certainly worth it.
For this recipe, I’ve accompanied it with a lightly grilled chicken fillet for some extra protein, but if you leave it out, the recipe will be vegetarian. This recipe is completely original. Mine. All mine.
To serve four, you will need:
For the chicken:
- Four chicken breast fillets;
- 1/4 lemon;
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely;
- 2 tablespoons paprika;
- 2 tablespoons olive oil;
- Salt & pepper.
Place the fillets and garlic in a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice from the 1/4 lemon over the chicken. Chop up the skin and throw it in, before adding the paprika, olive oil, and a dose of salt and pepper. Mix. Cover and set aside to marinate while you get sorted on your salad.
For the quinoa tabbouleh:
- 3 bunches flat leaf parsley, finely chopped;
- 1/4 bunch mint, finely chopped;
- Two Roma tomatoes, diced;
- 1/4 Spanish onion, finely chopped;
- 3/4 Hass avocado;
- 50ml lemon juice;
- 50ml olive oil;
- Salt and pepper;
- Handful of raw walnuts, crushed;
- 1C quinoa.
The primary reason why I wanted to make tabbouleh is because our herb garden has absolutely exploded this spring and our parsley has gone feral.
Therefore, collecting three bunches of parsley wasn’t much of a problem for me. It takes a verrrry long time to chop it up finely though!
Anyway, before you get to that.
To prepare your quinoa, measure out one cup and rise it through a sieve under a running tap of cold water. Place it in a medium saucepan, then add two cups of cold water. Over a medium heat, cook it until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and cook it with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Turn the heat off and remove the lid – don’t worry about straining it as any remaining water will be absorbed as it sits. Let it rest to cool.
Chop up all of your vegetables like a madwoman. Or a mad gentleman. Mix together the onion, tomatoes, mint and parsley.
Once your quinoa has cooled, add about 1/2 of the amount (or more if you like) to the salad, adding the lemon juice, olive oil, and a healthy amount of salt and pepper to your taste. Feel free to add more lemon juice if you like it sour.
Mix together thoroughly, and while you’re at it, chuck your marinated chicken fillets onto a hot grill pan and cook until tender and well-done.
Dice up your avocado. Oh em gee I love avocado so much.
Scatter your avocado and the crushed walnuts over the top of the tabbouleh. In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t add cucumber as is the tradition with tabbouleh as it’s one of my most disliked vegetables. So I added avocado because it’s a green vegetable/fruit that I feel very differently about, and the raw walnuts to add some crunch.
Serve your quinoa tabbouleh onto plates. Slice the chicken fillets and arrange on top. Not that it’s going to stay sitting there for very long anyway. Cut a slice of lemon if you want it to look more photogenic.
Healthy and delicious.
No, that is not an oxymoron.
Try it. You will thank me for it.