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Mediterranean mix

We eat an awful lot of quinoa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner…we simply cannot get enough of this super seed. Grown on the banks of the Andes, it is lauded as the wheat-free alternative – and for good reason. A complete source of protein and packed with calcium, manganese and other essential vitamins, it occupies pride of place in our pantry.

This quinoa combo was a knockout at our café. Cinnamon spiced for warmth and studded with golden raisins, we served countless bowls in the lunchtime rush. Its light texture and nutty taste pair perfectly with the activated almonds. Soaked, salted and dehydrated, this three-step process boosts both the nuts’ nutrient value and their absorption levels. It does require a little more effort than simply toasting, but the benefits are beyond dispute.

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Hail the mighty aubergine!

Our favourite variety is the viola – a pale, creamy violet, it has a firm flesh that melts wonderfully when roasted. In this dish, the marinade is key. Fresh oregano is a heady herb, but when used with care it enhances the subtle smokiness like no other. Be sure to spoon on the marinade as soon as the aubergine come out the oven – it makes a world of a difference.

With a healthy dose of fat from the avocado and coconut oil, plus a fresh kick from the coriander and mint, this is a delicious lunch…in a just-so sort of way.

Recipe

To activate almonds, soak overnight in plenty of cold water and a good pinch of sea salt. Rinse and roast on a low heat – either in a dehydrator or at a low temperature in your oven (60˚C – 80˚C / 140 F – 180 F). This can take anywhere from between 6 – 12 hours.

The marinated aubergine can be made a day prior, but do allow them to come to room temperature before serving.


serves 4

1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a handful of golden raisins
2 cups fresh coriander
½ cup fresh mint
2 avocados, sliced
½ cup activated almonds
3 small aubergine
olive oil for brushing

for the marinade:

1 mild red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oregano, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
good grind of black pepper


To cook the quinoa, combine it with the cinnamon and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the grains uncurl and become translucent. Add the golden raisins while still warm and set aside.

To roast the aubergine preheat the oven to 180˚C / 350 F. Trim off the stalk end, cut each in half lengthways and then cut each half in two. Brush with olive oil on all sides, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and tender.

While roasting, mix together all the marinade ingredients. Spoon over the aubergine the moment they come out the oven. Share all the components in the four bowls (quinoa, aubergine, avocado, almonds and fresh herbs). Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon.

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