Quinoa can be used in so many ways, you can add it to your salads for protein and carbs, grind it into a gluten free flour or as a bulgur replacer in your tebbouleh. Here I made a hot salad dish, but it's also perfectly delicious cold. This makes a great meal prep or packed lunch.
Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is one of the only plant based foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids, i.e. it's very rich in protein. Perfect for vegans who need a balanced diet. Additionally, it is high in fibber, antioxidants and magnesium alongside some major vitamins such as: B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E.
The first thing I do is boil my quinoa so it's ready and cooled down once the veggie mixture is cooked through. For this, I recommend following your package instructions. My favourite quinoa to use is the tri-color quinoa by Bob's Red Mill, which is certified gluten free and organic. I boil one cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water. Cover and let that boil & cook through. You may add salt, but I prefer to leave it plain as it will get mixed with a lot of flavour afterwards
Chopping your Veggies
The main veggies I like to use are onions, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, spinach and some rosemary and thyme to add flavour.
The Onion and garlic are essential here because they give the whole dish a very flavourful touch. This dish does not have any dried herbs or spices, everything is fresh, and so do not skip this part. If you have IBS, you can try replacing the garlic with some garlic oil instead.
Chop your onions and tomatoes into cubes, dice your garlic or mince it, slice your mushrooms into discs. Getting everything ready before you start cooking them will avoid burning your garlic and onions while you're still busy chopping the other veggies.
Once everything is ready and chopped, heat your pan and add a little olive oil. Once hot, add your onions, garlic and fresh herbs. let them cook until softened, then add the diced tomatoes. I removed the lid off my quinoa so it does not get too soft and for the water to evaporate a little quicker.
At this point you can add a bouillon cube. The one I use is a vegetable cube that is by Kallø, which is gluten and dairy free. It is also organic. You can either drop it into the quinoa to add the flavours as it boils, or you can add it into the veggie pan.
Let it cook through and soften even more, then rinse a can of chickpeas and add to your veggie mixture. This is for some added protein and carbs. Chickpeas are really great in vegan dishes as it helps compensate for the protein found in meats. Although I am not vegan, whenever I try making vegan dishes, I love adding chickpeas. At this point, add some salt and pepper to taste. If you would like to add any other spices such as chilli flakes or paprika, feel free too. This dish is all about flavours!
Mix it all through then add the spinach and let it wilt.
Once everything is cooked through, remove the lid off the quinoa if you haven't already and turn off the heat. Now it's time to prep the cucumbers and cut them in a very specific way. Firstly, cut the cucumber in half and then scoop out all the liquid and seeds in the middle. The seeds can often add a strong flavour, which you want to avoid. You also want to get rid of that excess moisture so make sure you do this step. Lastly, prepare some olives. I used sliced black olives from the jar, but feel free to use whichever and how ever much you like.
Now take a bowl and combine the magic together! To avoid any mess, I prefer to mix portions of quinoa with veggies at a time until it's all combines. This just helps avoid a big mess.
Now add the olives and cucumbers on the top, gently combining it into the mixture. Note: You can have this dish hot or cold. Most people like to wait until everything is cooled and no longer hot, however, I like mine hot, like a rice & curry dish.
Last but not least, drizzle half a lemon on your entire dish, and enjoy, the best gluten free quinoa salad. This is such an easy dish to play around with in terms of ingredients and flavours. It's great for when you have random veggies laying around about to go bad. Easily combined into a great dish that works great for meal prepping and work lunches.