This blog elaborates on the versatility of the delicious warm quinoa salad recipe featured in this video. This dish is the perfect recipe to make in bulk and enjoy as a workday lunch. Feel free to change the vegetables and seasonings and customise the recipe to your liking and what you have in the kitchen.
Ingredients: Serves 4-6
- 1 red onion peeled and sliced into thin wedges
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 5cm thin strips (julienne)
- 1 courgette, cut into 5cm thin strips (julienne)
- 1 red pepper, chopped into 1½cm pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- Pinch of dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Cherry tomatoes
- I cup of cooked quinoa (100 gm in weight)
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
- 100g feta cheese
How to Cook Quinoa Properly
Quinoa is actually very easy to cook, far easier than rice and with more flavour and texture than couscous. Simply add one-part quinoa, for example 1 cup, to a pot and pour in 2 parts (2 cups) of liquid. You can use water or stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered. By this time all the liquid should be absorbed, and the grains ‘unravelled’. Fluff up with a fork and add , lemon juice, fresh herbs and any other flavourings.
Another alternative is to heat a little olive oil in the pot first and lightly toast the quinoa. You can also add a clove or two of crushed garlic at this point. Just be careful not to burn it, you should get a faint smell of toastiness and the garlic should be barely cooked. Add the liquid and cook as usual.
If you need to cool the quinoa quickly, to pack away in a lunchbox, spread the cooked quinoa out onto a clean tray and fan. Turn every so often with a spatula to release the steam. Quinoa will take on flavour better if it is dressed when warm, but in this case cool it first to avoid losing some of the flavour stuck to the tray.
Adding Flavour to Quinoa
Quinoa has a wonderful texture and a natural nutty flavour, but it does benefit from some additional flavourings. A bit like couscous, it is a blank canvass and will take on a huge variety of flavours. It is also a great vessel for using up odds and ends in the fridge.
Bay leaves: add a bay leaf or two during the cooking process for a lovely savoury flavour, no stock needed.
Onion: add a small piece of onion to the cooking liquid, or some fresh, pickled or blanched onion to the final dish. I often use the end bit of onion leftover over from vegetable prep.
Garlic: rather than adding raw garlic, toast a little garlic in olive oil before cooking the quinoa.
Citrus: I think fresh lemon juice is essential when you dress quinoa. It enhances the flavours of anything else you add and brings out the natural nuttiness of the quinoa itself.
Vinegar: my favourite vinegars to use are sherry vinegar and red wine vinegar. You can also roast the vegetables in balsamic vinegar or add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction afterwards.
High quality oils: good quality, cold pressed oils add delicious flavour and mouthfeel. Get yourself an extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, rapeseed and avocado oil.
Fresh herbs: quinoa makes a great vehicle to use up any soft herbs that you have, including the finely chopped stalks: parsley, coriander, basil, chives, tarragon, mint etc.
Spices: give your quinoa a Middle Eastern vibe with ras al hanout or an Indian cuisine nod with garam masala. Or simply use ground cumin or smoked paprika on their own.
Ras al hanout: Mix 2 ½ tbsp each ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground cumin and 1tbsp cayenne pepper. Store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.
Pesto: a good dollop of pesto thinned down with lemon juice, EVOO and seasoned with salt and pepper makes a great dressing for any salad or roasted vegetables.
Soy sauce: soy sauce is both salty and has a deep umami flavour, so can add a lovely =depth of flavour to quinoa, it doesn’t have to be an Asian recipe.
Quinoa is a great base for loads of different ingredients. You can make up the basic recipe in the video and add a small quantity of other ingredients for each serving to keep things interesting.
Summer roasted vegetables: mix together chopped red onion, peppers, courgettes and aubergines. Tuck in some fresh rosemary and garlic cloves. Drizzle with EVOO, balsamic vinegar and season. Roast at 200°C until soft and slightly charred. Add some cherry tomatoes for the last few minutes until they burst.
Autumn roasted vegetables: mix together diced pumpkin, parsnips, onion, celeriac, beetroot, apples or pears. Tuck in fresh thyme, garlic cloves and grated fresh ginger. Drizzle with EVOO, sherry vinegar and season. Roast at 200°C until tender and slightly charred. Drizzle over a little honey while still warm.
Feta cheese: I always have a block of feta in the fridge and add it to many dishes. The mild, salty flavour and creamy texture adds a little something when in doubt as to what is missing in a dish.
Nuts and seeds: my favourites to use in quinoa are lightly toasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and hazelnuts. Some nuts are are expensive but a little goes a long way.
Chickpeas: a tin of drained, rinsed chickpeas instantly makes the dish more substantial and filling and will keep you going for longer. It is also a nice contrast in texture.
Crispy chorizo: fry up a little sliced chorizo until crispy. Don’t discard the spicy oil, use this to flavour the quinoa. The paprika and garlic in the chorizo is delicious in quinoa. A good squeeze of lemon is advised to balance the fat.
Pickled red onion: I don’t like raw onion in dishes unless its spring onion. For a quick pickle, cover sliced red onion in boiling water. Add 2tbsp white wine vinegar, a tablespoon each of salt and sugar, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Leave to pickle for 10-20 minutes, then lift out of the liquid and use.
Crunchy vegetables: every salad needs some crunch for texture. My favourites are: celery, blanched green beans, sugarsnap peas, raw carrot and small broccoli florets.
In this series, chef and author Rozanne Stevens prepares a series of recipes from an evidenced based cookbook called ‘Healthy Eating for Cancer Survivors’ developed by Dr. Aoife Ryan and Dr Éadaoin Ní Bhuachalla, of University College Cork (UCC), and Breakthrough Cancer Research. The Cookbook is available on https://www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie/product/the-anti-cancer-cookbook/ More videos and recipes are available on
Laya Healthcare has put together a cancer care guide outlining screening, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Download your guide https://www.layahealthcare.ie/media/site/pdfs/Cancer-Care-Laya-Healthcare.pdf