Tag Archives: quinoa

Slow-Roast Tomato and Quinoa Caprese

25 Jul

These Roma tomatoes, also known as Plum tomatoes or, here in Spain, tomates Pera (pear tomatoes) are all beginning to ripen here now.

When I am out with Rufus in the morning I see the farmers and their wives with their straw hats and gloves on, picking them from row upon row of tomato plants and storing them in crates.

They are really cheap at the moment so you can buy a lot for very little money. One of my favourite things to do with these tomatoes is to slow-roast them. It intensifies the flavour, you can make a load and keep them covered in oil in the fridge.

All you have to do is cut them in half, put them on a lined baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper and put them in a low oven for 2 hours, or more if you like them more dried.

You can use them in salads, pasta dishes, serve them on burgers, in sandwiches, tortillas, quiches, pizzas or a quick bruschetta. They transform anything ordinary into something a bit special. And it’s so easy.

If you try making these once you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. They’re such a handy thing to have around. And so cheap at the moment, it would be rude not to really.

They’re great for picnics too.

Tomatoes and basil were made for each other. They are what summer is all about. The Caprese salad is one of my “go to” summer dishes because all the ingredients are at their best and it is really quick and easy to make.

Now feel free to just use these tomatoes in a “normal” Caprese with some soft, milky buffalo mozzarella and lots of  torn basil leaves if that is all you can manage in this heat. I wouldn’t blame you at all.

But I couldn’t really call that a recipe could I? I’d feel like I was cheating you somehow.

I used quinoa in this recipe but you could just as easily use cooked rice, couscous, orzo or even pasta as the base.

Quinoa is so good for you, an amazing source of protein if you are vegetarian or vegan and it’s gluten-free. If you’ve never tried cooking with it before you should give it a go. Don’t be scared, it’s easy to work with, really versatile and is nice to eat. It absorbs flavours really well too. I cook mine in veg stock rather than water which makes it even tastier.

Slow Roast Tomato & Quinoa Caprese Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free

For the tomatoes:

  • 8 large , ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper.  Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthways and place them, cut side up on the tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt & pepper. Put in the oven for 2 hours, or longer until they have started to dry out.

Leave to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge with any juices until half an hour before you need them. Bring them back to room temperature before serving to get the most out of the flavour. If you want to store them for  longer than a few days, cover them with some olive oil. But I doubt they’ll last that long.

For the Quinoa Caprese:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 400 gr quinoa
  •  about 1 litre veg stock
  • 40gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • a big handful of basil leaves
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200 gr mozzarella
  • 6-8 slow-roast tomato halves (see above)
  • salt & black pepper
  • chilli oil (optional)

Cook the quinoa by putting it into boiling veg stock, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 12 -14 minutes until you can see the curlicues in every grain and it has absorbed all, or most, of the stock. Add some boiling water if dries out. Drain, if necessary, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile  fry the onions in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes until softened and caramelised.

Fluff up the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and stir through the onions and any oil from the pan. Tip in any tomato juices, the sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tear or finely julienne the basil and add half to the quinoa and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can refrigerate it at this point, just bring it back to room temperature before serving.

To serve, pile the quinoa onto a large serving dish or into individual bowls and arrange the slow-roast tomatoes on top. Tear off  bite size pieces of mozzarella, scatter it around the tomatoes and top it off with the rest of the basil. Drizzle over some chilli oil or olive oil at the table.

Enjoy the taste of summer in a bowl!

Things That made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus cooling off in the spring…

Giving our plants on the terrace a quick shower…

Stay cool!!

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Middle Eastern Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

4 Jun

Tabbouleh (or tabouli) is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with bulgur wheat, tomato and spring onion. Loads of finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are added then it is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It is so simple to make and has bags of flavour from the fresh herbs. The lemon juice lifts all the other flavours making it a refreshing, easy and delicious salad which can be served on its own,  as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or as part of a mezze.

This is one of my favourite lunch dishes. I vary the ingredients slightly every time according to what I have in the house. I’ve replaced the bulgur wheat with quinoa to keep it gluten-free but you could use couscous as well.

This time I added my Chermoula Seasoning and some harissa paste to the quinoa while it was cooking as well as throwing in some juicy raisins to plump up in the cooking liquid. Some flaked almonds on top give it some added texture but it is really all about the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Whatever you do don’t skimp on the herbs….

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed in fine sieve
  • 450 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp chermoula seasoning
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional) or a big pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small red onion or 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (or the zest of 1/2 a lemon)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • salt & black pepper
  • small mint leaves for garnish

Put the rinsed quinoa, stock, raisins, chermoula seasoning, harissa paste, salt & pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the curlicues in each grain. Leave to cool.

Stir through the chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber and preserved lemon or zest. You can keep it in the fridge like this, in an airtight container until you are ready to serve it.

To serve, stir through the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and taste for seasoning. Tip into a serving dish and top with some flaked almonds and extra mint leaves.

Enjoy!!

Things that made me smile today…..

Thistles…

Double Layer Hibiscus…

Tequila Sunrise anyone…?

Have a great weekend!!

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine and Quinoa with Almonds and Raisins

25 Mar

This started out a s a recipe in the Terre a Terre vegetarian cookbook for Halloumi & Almond Kibbeh. Kibbeh are usually made with ground meat, spices and bulgur wheat shaped into balls or patties. The Terre a Terre version uses a mixture of ground almonds, halloumi, cream cheese, tofu and Chermoula spices to make the pattie mix which were then wrapped in thin aubergine slices and cooked.  Chermoula is a Moroccan/North African spice blend normally used as a rub or marinade for fish and meat.

This Chermoula spice mix (there are many variations) is made from toasted coriander, fennel and cumin seeds ground together and mixed with sumac (a dried, ground berry with a lemony, smokey flavour) and salt. You can use it dry for seasoning dishes or mix it with olive oil, lemon juice & garlic for a delicious marinade or dressing.  Okay, so I made the kibbeh without the tofu (I have a pathelogical dislike of tofu that I need to overcome). I really didn’t like the resulting texture I found them dry and quite heavy and after a lot of work too! Luckily I had made quite a lot of the bean tagine and quinoa so for lunch the next day I just pressed some sliced Halloumi into the Chermoula spices and dry fried them as I usually would for my favourite Halloumi recipe. So much easier! The Chermoula makes a perfect spice crust for my favourite salty, meaty cheese which could be served with the just the bean tagine or just the quinoa salad if you don’t want to make everything. The flavours are really complex and work fantastically together.

Another ingredient used in this dish is preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are a key ingredient in Moroccan cuisine. The preserved lemon peel is chopped and used to impart an intensely lemony flavours to soups, stews, tagines and many other dishes. The lemons are preserved in a mixture of lemon juice, salt and occasionally spices. I made my own because I had a mountain of lemons in my kitchen. It seemed like the perfect thing to do with them as I love all Middle Eastern cuisine. I used Spicie Foodie’s recipe which was really easy and now I am the very proud owner of a jar of  homemade preserved lemons. Who would have thought it?

At it’s narrowest point the southern coast of Spain is only about 8 miles from Morocco across the Atlantic. This means that it has a similar climate and a lot of the ingredients used are the same as in Andalucian cuisine. I was inspired to make this dish because a lot of the ingredients used I see growing while walking the dog. The almond blossom has now disappeared to reveal the young green nut and the oranges are still everywhere although coming to the end of their season.

 The quinoa salad could easily be made with bulgur wheat or couscous instead and feel free to substitute pistachios for almonds or olives for the raisins. Just use what you have, within reason, obviously. I’m not advocating the use of chocolate chips here but now that I’ve said it, it might make an interesting dessert…..

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine & Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

Serves 4 with leftovers, vegetarian. Adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook

For the Chermoula Halloumi

  • 2 packs Halloumi cheese, rinsed & sliced into 1/3 cm slices
  • 25 gr coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Toast all the seeds until fragrant and grind them in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Mix them with the sumac & salt and store in an airtight container. When ready to cook the halloumi, sprinkle about 4 tbsp of the spice mix onto a shallow dish and press your halloumi slices into it to coat on both sides. To cook the halloumi heat a non stick frying pan to hot without any oil and dry fry the slices for a minute or so on each side until lightly browned. Serve with the butter bean tagine and/or the quinoa salad.

For the Butter Bean Tagine

  • 1 jar/tin cooked butter beans 400 gr, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 or 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (or saffron)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 orange, zested then juiced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1 tin 400 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or 1/4 tsp crushed dried chillis)
  • 100 ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp salt +
  • a handful of coriander leaves for garnish
  • olive oil to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid or casserole/tagine over a medium heat. Add the shallots, onion and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric/saffron, star anise and black pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.

Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the coriander & olive oil, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Either leave it to cook in a pan on the stove top or, if you are using a tagine or casserole, put on the lid and put it in a 170C oven for the same amount of time.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Remove the star anise and use it again for the quinoa. Stir in some of the fresh coriander ad serve garnished with the rest of the coriander leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Or serve topped with the Chermoula Halloumi slices.

For the Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

  • about 150 gr quinoa (or bulgur or couscous)
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • the star anise from the tagine above
  • 60 gr raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 80 gr toasted almonds (whole)
  • 50 gr toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tsp Chermoula spice mix (see recipe above)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  •  a handful of fresh parsley chopped
  •  a handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook the quinoa/bulgur/couscous according to the instructions on the packet. I use stock rather than water for more flavour. Put the raisins/sultanas in the hot stock as well to plump up aswell as the star anise. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add in the shallots and fry until soft and sweet, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the preserved lemon peel (or zest) and cinnamon, stir, then pour over the cooked quinoa, season with the chermoula spice mix, salt & pepper and mix well. This can now be refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving when you take it out to come up to room temperature.

Serve at room temperature. Shortly before serving stir through the nuts, chopped herbs, lemon juice and check the seasoning. Serve topped with the Chermoula halloumi or on the side off the ButterBean Tagine.

I had quite a lot of the quinoa leftover so I also made a nice salad  for lunch with some rocket leaves dressed with olive oil & lemon juice . I just topped it off with some crumbled feta. Delicious….

  Enjoy!!

Roasted Squash, Red Onion and Quinoa Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

4 Jan

This little squash growing on the ground on one of the farms where we walk the dog was the inspiration for a quinoa (keen-wah) salad I made for lunch yesterday. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. It is so highly regarded because of its nutritional value, having a high protein content, essential amino acids and fibre. 

This is the first time I have cooked with Quinoa. After all the indulgence over Christmas this is my attempt at healthy eating. I roasted the squash & red onion the night before for dinner and had some left over to put in this salad. Make sure you season the quinoa well it soaks up lots of flavour…

Roasted Squash, Red Onion & Quinoa Salad with Tahini Dressing

serves 3 or 4, vegetarian

  • 1/3 squash or pumpkin about 500 gr cut into 1 cm dice
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into eighths (wedges)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 2 or 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup quinoa about 200 gr
  • 1 cup water 250 ml
  • 1 cup veg stock 250 ml
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful of chopped pistachios (I used walnuts but pistachios would be better)
  • a handful of sultanas

For the dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 0r 3 tbsp tahini
  • the juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp hot water from the kettle (maybe more)
  • 1/ tsp salt

First roast the vegetables. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the squash cubes & red onion wedges on a lined baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil & balsamic vinegar, sprinkle over the salt, pepper, chilli flakes & rosemary and toss together with your hands to coat the veg. Roast in the preheated oven for about 20 – 25 minutes until the squash is tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven & leave to cool.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa. Put the quinoa, water, veg stock, salt & pepper in a medium saucepan and heat until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed about 15 minutes. You may need to add more liquid. It is done when you can see the curly swirl in each grain. Fluff up with a fork, leave to cool and toss with the squash, onions, pistachios & sultanas. Check for seasoning.

Make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, zest & olive oil. Add the hot water & salt and continue whisking until you get the desired consistency. Add more hot water/oil/lemon juice if you need to. Pour half of the dressing over the quinoa salad and mix to coat evenly.

Serve the salad at room temperature with some extra tahini dressing on the side….. You could also crumble over some feta or goat’s cheese for extra flavour.

Enjoy!

  

  

 

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