This recipe should probably be called Italian Style Quinoa Salad. Quinoa doesn’t really feature in the typical Italian diet (seeing as it originates from South America) but the rest of the ingredients do: olives, capers, tomatoes, pine-nuts, the usual suspects… So, I hear you ask, what has inspired me to combine these ingredients together?
A wonderful trip to Sardinia actually…
Sardinia is a magical island. Have you ever been? It truly is a beach paradise with pristine blue waters and white sands at every turn. It is also, just like the rest of Italy, a paradise for food lovers (both big and small). The whole family enjoyed many a tasty olive, tomatoes that tasted sweet and juicy (like they’re meant to) and various forms of gelato to satisfy A-L’s obsession with ice cream. O, and the restaurants. They actively encouraged young children to come along, providing loud music, big telly screens and separate play areas to entertain the little folk. It was great!
So, now that we’re back in the UK (alas), I’ve tried to bring some of those Italian ingredients (and memories) into our dinners. Here, I present a tasty little salad, full of protein, and jam-packed with juicy flavours and textures. As we’d over-indulged in wheat-based meals whilst on holiday (a day didn’t go by without at least one serving of pasta or pizza), I thought I’d use quinoa as an alternative base for the salad. I think it works nicely. You can serve this salad warm or cold. Preferably eaten outside with summer sunshine and holiday memories.
- 150g quinoa
- 100g frozen peas
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed
- 25g pine nuts, toasted
- 50g pitted olives (black or green), sliced
- 2 tsp capers, chopped
- few sundried tomatoes, chopped OR handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably the sweeter ones)
- Cook the quinoa: Boil in plenty of hot water for around 12 minutes. Add the frozen peas after 6 minutes of cooking and cook the quinoa and peas together. Once cooked, rinse the quinoa and peas in cold water. Drain.
- Meanwhile, fry the onion in a good glug of oil until it is translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
- In a large bowl, put the cooked quinoa, peas, and fried onion mixture. Then add in the remaining ingredients: the pine nuts, olives, capers, tomatoes, 1 tbsp of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. The varied colours and textures in this salad make it really enticing.
- Give the salad a good stir, adding further oil and vinegar to taste.