Quinoa pronounced kin wah, is the seed of a grain-like crop grown in South and Central America and is closely related to species such as beetroot and spinach. It originated in the mountainous regions of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru where it has been grown for human consumption for over 3000 years. Its nutrient composition compares favourably with other cereals and is higher in essential amino acids such as lysine, making it a complete protein source. It also contains good levels of calcium, phosphorus and iron. It is gluten free and easy to digest. In its natural state the outer case of the seed is very bitter making it unpalatable but this is removed during processing. Despite this quinoa should always be well rinsed and soaked briefly before cooking. It is cooked rather like rice and once cooked it has a light fluffy texture and delicious nutty flavour. It can be cooked in either water or stock, flavoured with herbs and spices and combines well with vegetables, fruits and nuts. It is great in salads, as a side dish and provides a wonderfully power packed breakfast dish. Available as red, black or white quinoa, white tends to be the more widely available, and it can be found in health food stores and now in many larger supermarkets.
Grilled tuna steaks with preserved lemon quinoa salad
Tuna is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acid and although it is recommended to eat fish twice a week (being a high source of protein but low source of fat) tuna does contain mercury it is best to only eat tuna (and other fish high in mercury such as swordfish and mackerel) once a week.
250 ml water
80 ml orange juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
50g toasted pistachio nuts
6 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp each chopped fresh coriander and parsley
4 x 200g tuna steaks
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
juice 1/2 lemon
1 tsp caster sugar
salt and pepper
Place the quinoa in a bowl covered with plenty of cold water and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve and transfer to a saucepan, add the water, orange juice, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, remove from the heat but leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. Fluff up the grains and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
Combine all the remaining ingredients except the tuna in a large bowl, stir in the quinoa. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, pour over the quinoa and stir well until evenly combined.
Brush the tuna steaks with a little oil, season lightly and sear on a preheated ridged grill pan for 30 seconds each side or until cooked to your liking. Rest briefly and serve with the quinoa salad.
Quinoa bircher muesli
Bircher muesli is given an extra protein boost with the addition of quinoa making this delicious breakfast dish the perfect choice if you are planning a hard work out or have a busy day ahead.
150g cooked quinoa (about 60 g raw quinoa)
90g rolled oats
50g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
25g sunflower seeds
50g mixed dried fruits, such as craisins and blueberries
1 apple, cored and gated
375 ml organic apple juice
125 ml Greek style yogurt
100 g frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp clear honey
Place the oats, nuts, dried fruits grated, apple, apple juice and yogurt in a bowl, stir well until evenly combined and set aside to soak for 4 hours or overnight.
Defrost the berries and blend together until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and stir in the honey.
Divide the soaked quinoa mixture between bowls and top each with a drizzle of the berry sauce and serve with extra yogurt.