I made and ate this after coming home from an aerobics class. I haven’t been to said aerobics class in months. I’d forgotten that the reason said class is called ‘Body Attack’ is because it leaves you feeling – you guessed it – like someone has attacked your body. Muscles aching, and with a slight touch of nausea from repeatedly rolling over on my back from sit-up position to plank position, I whipped up this so-ridiculously-nutritious-it-should-be-available-on-an-intravenous-drip-on-the-NHS salad. I have rarely felt healthier in my life.
Luckily, there’s no need for you to follow in my footsteps. You can definitely still make this salad even if all you’ve done all day is sit on the sofa in your pyjamas eating crisps (but, strangely enough, I don’t think those types are the target audience for this blog). You can still make it even if you had leftover pizza for breakfast and a kebab for lunch. Or if the only exercise you’ve done this year is running for the bus. The punchy flavours and copious quantities of greenery it contains should be more than enough to get you feeling good again.
Let’s list all the good things to be found in here, shall we? Everything sits on a base of peppery rocket. Then there’s cooked quinoa, which obviously must be good for you because it’s bloody expensive to buy. (And, er, it is actually, nutritionally, very good for you). I toast quinoa before cooking, which makes it less likely to go soggy. Nothing worse than soggy quinoa, I might say, if I wanted someone to repeat my words to the ‘First world problems’ twitter feed. The quinoa is mixed with peas and broad beans, then topped with sliced avocado. I add some toasted whole almonds for crunch and texture, then everything is drizzled with a magic dressing featuring yes, of course, more greens: spring onions, chives and basil, pepped up with zingy lemon juice and a little Greek yoghurt that makes it creamy yet tart and refreshing. It’s delicious and will be featuring much more in my kitchen in the future.
The only item in here whose nutrition credentials are a tad dubious are the fat slices of brick-red, oily, pan-fried chorizo, but really, the rest is so damn good for you, so who cares? It tastes great and goes incredibly well with all the greenery and the tangy dressing, giving it a salty, meaty, paprika-scented richness. If you’re a vegetarian you could leave it out, or add some tofu/boiled eggs for protein, and if you eat fish then I reckon flakes of mackerel or hot smoked salmon/trout would be amazing too.
I don’t believe in stupid health fads like juice diets or cutting out grains. I reckon the easier way to do it is just to eat something like this on a regular basis. And if you want to wash it down with a glass of wine or follow it with a big slice of cake, I won’t tell.
Very green quinoa salad with avocado, seared chorizo and toasted almonds (serves 2):
- 100g quinoa
- 150g frozen peas, broad beans, or a mixture of both
- 240ml water
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp blanched almonds
- Half a ring of chorizo
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Two large handfuls of rocket
For the dressing:
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- A small bunch of fresh basil, chopped
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 3-4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
First, cook the quinoa. Toast it over a medium-high heat in a dry pan until it starts to pop and smell nutty. Add the water and peas/broad beans, cover and bring to the boil, then cook for 10 minutes. After this time the quinoa should have absorbed all or most of the water. Drain well in a sieve then return to the pan. Mix with the salt and some pepper.
For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a mini food processor and blitz well, adding a little more lemon juice or water if it’s too thick to drizzle.
Toast the almonds in a dry pan until golden. Fry the chorizo (you can use the same pan while it’s still hot from the almonds) briefly until it starts to crisp lightly on both sides. Divide the rocket between two salad bowls then top with the quinoa. Divide the avocado, chorizo and almonds between the bowls, then drizzle over the dressing and serve.