Healthy and Delicious Quinoa Salad with Almonds
Salads used to be often boring and mundane. These days, the salad bar (bad pun intended) has been raised and the variety of taste experiences from different salad combinations has been greatly enhanced. The flavour in this quinoa salad with almonds is wonderful. There is some sweetness from the dates, tanginess from the tomatoes and olives, crunchiness from the lettuce, and a wonderful flavour from the toasted almonds. This is all finished with a tangy tahini dressing.
Quinoa: The Food of the Gods
Quinoa originated in South America. If you went back 30 years, I imagine the average European or North American would not have heard of it. It’s actually been around for at least 5,000 years, and the Incas believed it was a gift from the Gods. This may be related to its nutritional benefits.
Quinoa is a good plant-based source of protein. Many grains are deficient in the amino acid lysine, however quinoa is a very good source of this amino acid. (oh, by the way, its actually pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa is highly nutritious and is a great source of fibre, antioxidants and many minerals such as magnesium and iron. It’s also gluten free, for those consuming a gluten free diet.
To cook prepare the quinoa, its good to start by rinsing it under cold water in a sieve for about 30 seconds. This rinses off naturally occurring compounds called saponins that can cause the quinoa to taste a little bitter. You then bring bring the quinoa to a boil in a pot of water, with one part quinoa to two parts water (ie 600ml water for 300g quinoa). Once boiled you turn down to a gentle simmer and cook until the excess water is absorbed. This should take approximately 15 minutes. You then leave the qunioa to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking you can roast the almonds. First they are broken up into smaller pieces, into approximately quarters. You can do this by chopping them with a knife or by blitzing them quickly in a blender, being careful not to blitz them too much into a flour. I like to use the latter method, just pressing the button on the blender for a second at a time and checking the almonds, until they are sufficiently broken up. They should only take a few brief presses of the blender button.
Often nuts are roasted until they start to go golden brown. This can be a little tricky with almonds since they are already kind of golden brown in colour. You can roast the nuts by placing them in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius (around 350 Fahrenheit) for 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking time can depend on the oven and whether fan assisted or not. Its best to keep a close eye to watch for burning.
The nuts will give off a lovely aroma when they are ready. You should also notice that the almonds get a little darker. Once the nuts are ready its also a good tip to remove them from the baking tray as they can continue to cook on the hot tray and may burn (I learnt this fact the hard way)
You can leave the quinoa and nuts to fully cool and have the quinoa salad with almonds cold, however I like to enjoy as a warm salad, mixing everything together once the quinoa has cooled for a few minutes.
If you get addicted to quinoa after trying this recipe you can also try my pomegranate quinoa salad.
You can also learn more about quinoa by checking out this article in Medical News Today here.
Seriously Good Quinoa Salad With Almonds
- 300 g of quinoa
- 20 pitted olives quartered green, black or mixed
- 1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce washed
- 3 sundried tomatoes chopped into small pieces
- 12 cherry tomatoes quartered
- 10 pitted dates chopped up small
- 50 g of toasted almonds
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp of tahini
- 1 tsp of mustard
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- Rinse the quinoa and combine with 600ml of water in a pot
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat, drain any excess water and leave to cool
- Roast the almonds on a baking tray in the oven at a pre-heated temperature of 180 Degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for around 7 minutes until almonds start to brown a little more, and give off a toasted smell. Keep an eye on oven, ensuring almonds don't burn. Once ready remove from hot baking tray and set aside.
- Roughly chop the iceberg lettuce and place into a large salad bowl
- Add the olives, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, dates, toasted almonds and quinoa
- Prepare the salad dressing by placing all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid and shaking the jar until all of the ingredients are mixed
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix all of the ingredients together