Rainbow Red Quinoa Salad with BBQ’d Corn. Photo – Eve Wilson, recipe and food styling – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Given I work in close proximity to my kitchen most days, we tend to eat home made salads a lot for lunch here in the office, and I find it is SO much better for afternoon productivity than a whopping great sandwich.
Today’s recipe is a staple around here – it’s so satisfying, and it keeps for days in the fridge, so you can make a big batch on Sunday night with the knowledge that weekday lunches will be sorted until at least Wednesday. You can also change it up with the addition of tuna, or roast chicken, both of which taste excellent mixed through the salad.
I must admit, this isn’t the fastest salad to prepare. There is a lot of chopping! However if you have a mandolin (which I highly recommend buying!) it saves a lot of time, and also, for some inexplicable reason, vegetables just seem so much more delicious when sliced super thin.
Also, you’ll notice there is a bit of prep required for the corn, which ideally would be chargrilled over a BBQ before adding it to the mix. I KNOW this seems a bit ridiculous, but it REALLY makes a difference. Of course you can substitute tinned corn if you’re pressed for time… but you will miss the smokey flavour of the BBQ’d corn, which really gives this salad a fantastic depth of flavour, and somehow ties it all together.
Salad ingredients (except the quinoa!) Photo – Eve Wilson, food styling – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
1 cup red quinoa (white would also be fine)
4-5 small pink radishes
½ red capsicum
½ Lebanese cucumber
1 corn cob
4 spring onions
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
Handful of pine nuts, dry toasted lightly in a frypan (careful not to burn!)
1 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon rind (scoop out flesh, rinse rind under water and pat dry before you chop)
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
Method (Serves Four As Side Dish)
Eat the rainbow! Quinoa salad ingredients ready to combine! In the small grey bowl – sumac, cumin and lemon. Photo – Eve Wilson, recipe and food styling – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Okay, before I get started, a tip with quinoa – don’t overcook it. Much like rice, if you put too much water in, or if you leave it cooking for too long, it can go a bit soggy – ideally you want the grains to retain their nutty texture.
Read the specific instructions on the package – usually it’s best to rinse quinoa in a sieve under running water, then transfer to a pot with 2 cups of cold water for every cup of quinoa. Bring it to the boil then turn down to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 mins or until all liquid is absorbed.
As soon as it’s cooked, take the quinoa straight out of the pot and transfer into a large mixing bowl, separating the grains out with a fork to allow them to cool and dry off a bit.
Whilst your quinoa is cooling, you can be cooking your corn. I boil mine first for about 10 mins until it goes deep yellow, then take it straight out to the BBQ and grill for around 5 mins on each side, just enough to get a little charred and crispy round the edges.
Now for the chopping! Wash and slice your radishes and cucumber into thin discs, dice your capsicum, and finely chop your parsley and spring onion. Once your corn has cooled, slice the kernels from the cob.
Add all chopped ingredients to your mixing bowl with the cooled quinoa, and stir through the toasted pine nuts. At this point, add your chopped preserved lemon too.
The dressing I add as separate components. I don’t know why it just seems easier after all that chopping! And it means you can adjust the quantities as you go, according to your taste. SO first splash in your olive oil, then lemon juice, tasting as you go. Sprinkle in your teaspoon of sumac and cumin and combine well. Mix mix mix. Add salt ‘n pepper to taste.