Cracking Quinoa

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Well today is quite a day as I think I have at last cracked quinoa!!!

I have really tried to like this must-eat grain for a couple of years but have found it stodgy and tasteless. On the few occasions I’ve tried to cook with it I’ve ended up with something that has more in common with school tapioca pudding than a cutting edge dish.

If I hadn’t tried it once at the Ottolenghi  restaurant in Islington I would have just shrugged my shoulders and not bothered with it at all. But I had had a delicious salad there and it rather haunted me. I’d really enjoyed it and wanted to make it myself. So today I did what I should have done months ago. I went to Yotam’s book Plenty and looked up how he cooked Quinoa!! The salad recipe he gave had a load of ingredients not in my fridge so I used his cooking method and added a dressing I’ve been working on this summer.

Sweet white miso paste has a wonderful light flavour, add honey, citrus juice and oil to make the dressing. This time I used lemon, but orange and pink grapefruit work too.Chop plenty of herbs and a small bunch of spring onions and mix these in. I added dried cranberries as I was looking for a sweet/sharp taste and I wanted to balance the texture with something a little chewy but pomegranate seeds would work well.

Quinoa salad with sweet white miso dressing

 This makes a lovely salad to serve with grilled meats but works well as a main course with the addition of some fried haloumi and chick peas.

200 gm. quinoa


1 dessertspoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon honey or to taste

Grated zest of an orange

2-3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2-3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic crushed to a paste with ½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper

To finish:

A good handful flat leaf parsley and one of fresh coriander

4 plump spring onions finely sliced

50gm dried cranberries
1 small red chilli diced (optional)

For a main course dish:

400gm tin chickpeas drained

200gm Haloumi cheese diced

2 tablespoons evoo

Cook the quinoa in plenty of boiling water for 10 minutes, drain very well and tip into a large bowl.

While the grain cooks mix the salad dressing and then add this to the warm quinoa. Stir well and cover the still steaming bowl with a tea towel.

When the salad is cool stir in the herbs, onions and cranberries. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To make this into a bigger dish Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the Haloumi cubes till golden. Toss these and the chick peas into the quinoa, taste adding additional seasoning if needed.


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