I’ve been smitten with quinoa lately.
This super-food has been quietly sneaking its way on my plate in the form of salads and desserts like the strawberry rhubarb compote with quinoa crumble I made the other day.
I know I’m late on this bandwagon but I’m glad that I’m finally on board and I want to share this quick and easy quinoa salad recipe with you. It is my to-go recipe especially on a hot and sunny day (or when you have one too many curries like I did in Sri Lanka).
This salad is just made up of four key ingredients. I like its refreshing flavours that work brilliantly together – the delicate and mild sweet crunchiness of the shallots, the intense sweetness and warmth from the lightly tossed tomatoes, the sharp and nutty flavour of the Parmigiano Reggiano that complements the nutty flavour of the cooked quinoa and the peppery and sweet freshness from the basil.
What I like about quinoa is how it actually has flavour. I love its delicate nuttiness, something that you don’t find in other grains. I also like its texture which is fluffy with a hint of slight chewiness.
Speaking of which, quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain even though it is often referred to as a grain for it is used like one. It is also very versatile and it taste great with many ingredients. Just begin with this salad and feel free to add other ingredients as you go along.
Recipe: Quick & easy cherry tomatoes, shallots and basil quinoa salad
Serves one hungry person
This is a very easy salad to put together. It can be packed for lunch at work or as a starter to a meal. I find that tossing of the cherry tomatoes in heat helps release the sweetness from the tomato.
Do take note that it is important to wash and pre-soak the quinoa before cooking as it removes the coating of saponin that lies in the outer husk of the quinoa. Saponin gives quinoa bitter aftertaste. I usually cook more quinoa than I need for a single meal. A single cup of quinoa is probably enough for 2 to 4 servings (depending on serving portion).
1 cup of quinoa seeds, washed and soaked for about 30 minutes
1.5 cups of water or vegetable stock for more flavour
cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, thinly sliced
a bunch of fresh sweet basil, chiffonade
sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
Parmigiano Reggiano if you are feeling indulgent or just parmasan cheese, shaved or grated
extra virgin olive oil (I like to use a fruity one)
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste
1. Start by running your quinoa seeds under running tap water. Then soak the quinoa seeds in tap water for about 20 – 30 minutes. Use a fine mesh strainer to drain out the quinoa seeds.
2. Place the quinoa into a pot with water/stock in the ratio of 1:1.5. You can add a pinch of salt for flavour if you are cooking the quinoa in water. Start cooking the quinoa at medium high heat until it starts to boil. Then turn down the heat to low and allow the quinoa to absorb the liquid. The quinoa takes about 10-15 minutes to cook. The ready quinoa will start to look slightly translucent. Fluff up the quinoa with a fork.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, slice the shallots and cherry tomatoes. To cook the cherry tomatoes, heat a pan to medium heat. Add in olive oil and then a sprig of rosemary when its hot. Then add in the cherry tomatoes and season to taste. Allow the cherry tomatoes to cook for about 2-3 minutes, until its skin starts to wilt and it is starting to break down.
4. Assemble the salad: Toss the quinoa with olive oil to taste. Then add in the shallots, cherry tomatoes, and parmasan cheese. Lastly, add in the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy your healthy and delicious salad!
5. Cling wrap and store the leftover quinoa after it is cooled in a airtight container in the fridge. This can be kept for up to a week.
Where to find quinoa in Singapore?