Warm Quinoa-Broccoli Salad

This is the type of lunch fare that will typically get thrown together when I have the privilege of being home with my son rather than at work, fulfilling the duties of a civil servant.  Grains, vegetables and the haunting perfumes of garlic and fresh spices.  Okay, maybe it sounds a bit dramatic as a description, but spices really get my creative and gastric juices going.

The combination of chives, ras el hanout and garlic-infused oil used here is one that Philippe and Ethné de Vienne’s book La cuisine et le goût des épices, introduced me to.  While their recipe was a garnish for fork-mashed new potatoes, it lends itself well to reinterpretation with whole grains and starchy tubers of all kinds.

If reference to ras el hanout leaves a giant question mark in your mind, then it’s high time to be introduced!  You can read more on the distinctive spice blend here.  Or just trust that it’s worth finding some and then proceed with the recipe.

Serves 1, multiply as required.

What you need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, warm or room-temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups small broccoli florets, steamed until crisp and bright (about 3 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow, red or orange bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely minced chives
  • 4 large pitted green olives, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 a clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the quinoa, broccoli, bell pepper, chives, olives, hemp hearts and ras el hanout. Mix well.
  2. In a small (preferably cast iron) frying pan, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the pressed garlic and stir and fry until golden.  Pour the oil and fried garlic over the grain and vegetable mixture.
  3. Add the red wine vinegar to the bowl along with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Mix again to distribute the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper throughout.
  4. Serve.

Variations:

  • Replace the ras el hanout with another spice blend such as a toasted (not raw) curry powder or the Spice Trekkers 1001 nights blend, or with some ground roasted cumin;
  • Vary the vegetables you use or the type of vinegar mixed in.

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