Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tomato, Quinoa, Chillie, Lime and Avocado


When I first saw this salad in my Observer Food Monthly magazine I said to myself straight away: got to make it. I just so happen to be madly in love with quinoa. Not only does it looks gorgeous, little golden balls, that brighten up any salad, but they are also so good for you that one would be a fool not to have them every so often. Did you know that they are claimed to be the one of the most complete foods there are? The first time I had them was in this one delicious salad where they were coupled up with corn kernels. I only posted it in my Portuguese language blog. I will post it here as well since it will certainly be done over the summer at my house. Going back to the salad, in addition to the lovely quinoa, it also has beautifully red and ripe tomatoes, sexy wedges of avocado, and parsley plus coriander (cilantro to many of you). Visually, it won my heart. In a rational-brainy way, it won my mind and heart again. Well, stomach had to be pampered as well. So on Monday I was already preparing it as soon as got home from work. And Tuesday we had a repeat.

The picture does not make it justice. A picture taken at night is never the same. A spring/summer salad certainly deserves to be shone upon by sunlight. However, as we say back home ‘If your hunting dog is not available, take your cat hunting with you’ (make do with what you have). I took the picture with artificial light.

I have been getting avocadoes delivered with my organic box for the last three weeks now. And it is all in the name of lovely salads and spring/summer meals. I was brought up in a culture which treats avocado as a fruit which is used in sweet dishes, smoothies.. So avocado in salads and other savoury concoctions is an eating habit I developed quite recently. I remember my school days and the countless number of avocado shakes/smoothies mum used to feed us with at breakfast, before going to school. It used to be pretty filling. Deliciously creamy. The native avocado variety in Brasil (excuse the ‘s’and not the ‘z’ – I’m going native here) is different from the one I purchase in Europe. Our variety is bigger, and the flavour is not as concentrated as the one we find in the neck of the woods where I live. I also remember a very delicious and terribly simple dessert made out of avocado, condensed milk and a little bit of milk. You would pour the three ingredients in the blender and give it a whiz until you had a good creamy end result. It was a delicious creamy dish that would be kept in the top section of the fridge in order to firm up and also to get really, really cold, and work as a ‘God’s send’ in the very hot Brasilian summer days.

This salad seemed to me as the perfect late evening meal and my special post for the WHB which this week is being looked after by the lovely Kalyn. It is pretty simple to make – check it out:

100g of quinoa – ¾ cup

1 good handful of parsley

2 good handfuls of coriander (cilantro)

Cherry tomatoes – loads ( this time I used vine tomatoes chopped in four as I have quite a lot of them hanging around)

2 small ripe avocadoes, sliced in wedges

One red chilli, deseeded and cut into little, thin strips

For the beautiful dressing which I unfairly forgot to talk about above – it is the soul of the salad in my opinion:

a lime

a small clove of garlic

extra virgin olive oil – be generous without being unhealthy on the amount used

Cook the quinoa first by boiling plenty of water and adding salt to it, as soon as it reaches boiling point. Add the quinoa grains to it, reduce the heat and let it cook for around 15 minutes. Whilst the quinoa is busy getting ready, get a salad bowl (or whatever you find appropriate for your salad) and place the herbs on it, then the tomatoes and the avocado wedges. If you are using chilli as well, scatter them over the salad at this stage. Once the quinoa is ready drain it and quickly run it under a tap of cold water. Then throw it over the salad.

To prepare the dressing just put your clove of garlic (no skin please!!) in a mortar and crush it. Then add the salt and black pepper crush it a bit more. Add the lime juice and olive oil. God, it is good.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad, get some charming salad ‘mixers’(often in long spoons shape) and toss everything together nicely. Then, what are you waiting for?


Patricia Scarpin said...

Tina, you and your wonderful salads - this is truly delicious!

Kalyn Denny said...

What a fantastic combination of ingredients. It's a perfect salad, in my opinion. Of course, I may be a tiny bit biased towards the cilantro and the tomatoes, but honestly, I love every one of these ingredients.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It's a very beautiful salad! Quinoa is one of those ingredients I intend to use and just don't think of. This salad should make me think of it more often. This looks like it's fill with healthy food and great flavor.
I so enjoyed
‘If your hunting dog is not available, take your cat hunting with you’

Lis said...

I gotta stop reading you guys when I've got hours to go before lunch here at work. *sigh*

This salad looks and sounds amazing, Valentina!


Ruth Daniels said...

The salad does look fabulous. I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela said...

Mmmm possibly my lunch tomorrow!!

Anonymous said...

I also love quinoa. It's a lucky thing that it's so good for us, but even if it wasn't, I would eat it for the taste. This looks like a marvelous recipe--love all the cilantro

Anonymous said...

Wow - how good does this sound! Wonderful fresh selection of grains and veggies - YUM!

Brilynn said...

I've been looking for more quinoa recipes, this looks great!

Truffle said...

This looks beautiful and delicious. I can't wait to try it as a newcomer to quinoa. What a lovely idea!

Anonymous said...

It's going 90 degrees here today in So Cal, this is what I need, refreshing salad with all the aromatic ingredients like this one, lovely !:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Valentina,
I just discovered ur blog a couple of days ago through a link on Meeta's blog. I LOVE LOVE LOVE ur recipes - they are all so very different and u write so charmingly. In fact, I'm sad ur not posting here anymore.
I just wanted to say that I tried this salad today and it was absolutely delicious - so simple, easy, quick and wholesome. My family loved it too! This will be made many times I think. Thanks so much for sharing ur recipe. I hope to try lots of ur salads and ur cakes - they look divine!