Friday, 28 November 2014

Quinoa salad with balsamic glazed carrots and halloumi

Having been gorging a little on totally delicious and bum enhancing (not in the good way) food at a wonderfully elaborate thanksgiving dinner this week, I figured it was time to have a wander down the healthy path and say hello to some superfoods. Obviously i'm going to sneak a little cheese into my handbag (actually a hemp backpack would probably be more apt for this journey).

Its such a beautiful combination of foods with far too many deliciously strong and absolutely necessary flavours, that I struggled a little on the title. I don't want to scare away those of you who enjoy indulgence but at the same time need to let the superfoodies know I've got their backs.

I can also let you know that this is safe man-territory. It's filling and delicious. As well as beautiful. I was losing light at the time due to having far too much fun picking my own chard (so the photos might not show you quite how colourful the dish is but I can assure you, it's pretty.

Quinoa salad with glazed balsamic carrots and halloumi

Quantities: Serves 2-3 (depending on portion size)

Timings: 40 mins

Kitchen Stuff: baking tray, non stick frying pan, nice bowl

3 large carrots, chopped into batons
balsamic vinegar (aged and thick if possible)
olive oil
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
dark soy sauce 
chilli flakes (if you fancy, not imperative)
large bunch of rainbow chard, stalks and leaves chopped and separated
3/4 cup tricolour quinoa (I used a mug)
1 1/5 cups water (again, used a mug)
1/2 teaspoon bouillon powder
half a block of halloumi, sliced into 1/2 cm slabs
1 clove garlic, chopped finely


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

1. BALSAMIC GLAZED CARROTS: Put your carrots on some foil in a baking dish and drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon olive oil. If it's not enough then add some more but you don't want too much liquid. Season with salt and pepper and toss them around. Put in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until starting to go a bit crisp and brown on the edges but still have some bite and are not burning (I can't stand mushy carrots).

2. FLUFFY QUINOA: The quinoa grows to twice its size when cooked so remember this when cooking it.  To cook quinoa, the ratio is 1:2 with water so however much quinoa you use, double that amount in water. 

Measure out your 3/4 mugful of quinoa and rinse under cold water in a sieve for a minute or two (this is important so the quinoa doesn't taste bitter). Add to a saucepan with the water, some salt and half a teaspoon of bouillon powder (adds flavour) over a high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Test it to see along the way but don't burn your mouth.

3.YUMMY DARK SOY & CHILLI SEEDS: Gather your pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and plonk them in a saucepan. Add a dash of dark soy sauce and mix - add a small amount first and mix it in to cover the seeds, you will need less than you think, its about half a teaspoons worth. Add some chilli flakes if you desire and put it on a med-high heat. Keep cooking and stirring until the pumpkin seeds are puffing up and starting to pop.

 4. RAINBOW CHARD: Add a dash of oil to a non stick frying pan over a med-high heat and add the chopped garlic and the rainbow chard stalks. Mix for a couple of minutes until softening and then add the leaves - the leaves take less time to cook than the stalks.

Season with salt and pepper and keep cooking until wilted and cooked through but not too much, you still want a bite to it.

5. BUILD IT: Start layering up your salad starting with the quinoa, then carrots, then rainbow chard. Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and set aside. Halloumi is most delicious eaten straight after it has been cooked so make sure you have your salad as ready as possible before cooking the halloumi.

6. HALLOUMI: Give the chard pan a quick wipe with some kitchen towel to remove any excess oil and put it back on the heat. When the pan has heated up, add the slices of halloumi and cook on each side until golden bubbles appear.

Pop them on the salad, sprinkle with the crunchy seeds and serve right away!