Quinoa Salad

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There was a time – not too long ago – when we did not like salads. At all. The Salad seemed to represent self-denial and bland rabbit food. We just could not understand why someone would willingly choose one as a main meal. Now – it’s a different story because we’ve realised a salad, could be any combination of foods, flavours and textures, hot or cold. Take the humble potato salad, for example, which isn’t on any diet plan we’ve ever seen. And it’s goooood  Or salad olivieh, our favourite Iranian takeout, which is made of eggs, chicken, potatoes, peas, pickles and lots of mayo. Again, not boring or virtuous.

So we’re experimenting with salads in our lunchboxes – usually flinging in whatever we can find in our fridge and cupboards. Recently we did a Not So Cobb Salad where we left out the egg (because we forgot) and lettuce (because we had perfectly good spinach in the fridge) and blue cheese dressing (because ay carumba, the calories!) and the chicken (because it went spectacularly off). We also tried different combinations of chickpeas, goats cheese, hummus, peppers, jalapenos, olives, spinach, avocado, sunflower seeds, grilled chicken… we basically embraced salads in a big way. As you might have guessed, we get a little obsessed sometimes. I mean in 2012, we spent the entire summer eating cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch. The whole summer. We went through bottles and bottles of Branston’s pickle and really, that may be the only reason the company is afloat.

Anyway, we hit upon a combination involving quinoa which reminded us very much of a salad we have bought a couple times from the Natural Kitchen. It combines salty and sweet, and different textures. It gives you carbs and protein and makes sure you get your vegetables. It could be a main or a good side dish. It’s also really yummy and kept us full all afternoon. We can’t give you a better endorsement than that. (Well, we could, but we don’t know any celebrities.)

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Makes 2 lunch boxes

1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 chicken stock cube (optional)
3 cups mixed leaves
1/2 cup olives
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package’s instructions. In our case, we added the quinoa to a pan, added the water and crumbed the stock cube into the water. We boiled the water, then turned the heat down to a simmer and covered the pan. After 15 minutes, when the quinoa had absorbed all the water and was completed cooked, we took the lid off the pan, stirred the quinoa a few times and left the pan on one side to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the remaining ingredients together.
  3. Add the cooled quinoa and toss.
  4. You may at this point season with salt, pepper and/or olive oil. We like to keep things simple!
  5. Divide into two lunchbox containers and store in the fridge for the next day.

So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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