Quinoa seems to be out of fashion now, but it still has a place in our pantry. This is such a healthy salad, in fact it balances the best of the healthy world with the tasty world of food. Quinoa tastes great, has a satisfying, bouncy texture and is one of the healthiest foodstuffs going. It is said to have more protein than any other grain and the perfect set of amino acids.
This salad combines the quinoa with rice. I have made this salad with both the skinny variety of red rice and also with black rice. Both are amazing, with a wonderful nutty flavour. I have also seen recipes for this dish made with Indian red rice (see comments below), and will experiment with that combination in the future. It is certainly more cost effective.
This is another amazing Ottolenghi dish, from his first book, Ottolenghi. in fact, today it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking mostly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Hence this salad from Ottolenghi. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.
Interestingly this same recipe is included in Chris Manfiled’s Tasting India, as a recipe from the Himalayan regions of India where red rice (patn1) and red quinoa are grown. The recipe differs in the rices used – she uses patna and Ottolenghi uses French rice – and Ottolenghi adds pistachios. Chris also uses red rather then white quinoa. While (to my mind) it sits uncomfortably in Chris’ book, the book is a collection of recipes given to her by people across India, so it is conceivable that the recipe provided (without provenance) was Ottolenghi’s. To be fair, we are not given the origins of the recipe in Ottolenghi’s book either, and the combination is probably common to areas of the Middle East and Mediterranean. For example, see Cypriot Grain Salad.
Today, instead of using rocket which will never grow well in our garden, we used a combination of three greens to give that sour and peppery taste that rocket has – purslane, watercress and nasturtium leaves.
Similar recipes include Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Parsley and Pinenuts, Rice, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Porridge with Tomatoes and Herb Oil, Cypriot Grain Salad, Quinoa, Parsley and Lemon Salad, Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Broad Beans, and Sweet Pepper and Rice Salad.
Red Rice and Quinoa with Orange and Pistachios
this is half of Ottolenghi’s recipe, and makes 4 generous servings
100g Camargue red rice or other black or red rice
0.5 medium onion, peeled and sliced
3 Tblspn extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for frying
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 0.5 orange
1 tspn lemon juice
0.5 garlic clove, crushed
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
50g dried apricots, roughly chopped
30g pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
20g whole rocket leaves (or use a one or more of purslane, watercress or nasturtium leaves)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring to the boil two saucepans filled with salted water, and simmer the quinoa and rice separately – the first for 13 minutes, the second for 22 minutes or according to package directions. Both should be tender but still have a bite.
Drain both, refresh under cold water, and leave in fine sieves to drain. You can spread them out onto flat trays to hasten the cooling down, if you wish.
While the grains are cooking, fry the onion in a little olive oil until golden brown. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, mix the rice, quinoa, cooked onion and the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well. Season generously, taste and adjust lemon, salt, pepper and sweetness (apricots) as necessary.
Serve at room temperature.
recipe notes and alternatives
If your dried apricots are rock-hard, like those that I get from my local Afghan shop, soak them in hot water briefly, before chopping. Save the soaking water for cooking rice or adding to another dish.
Sprinkle barberries over the top for extra colour and a slight tart flavour. Pomegranate kernels are good too.