Toasted quinoa salad with balsamic blueberry dressing

To be honest, this was going to be a quinoa and broccoli salad, but my broccoli had done that thing where it’s fine one day, and stinky and yellowed the next…
So red pepper and beetroot for me! And a very tasty combination it is.
I don’t use quinoa much, which is silly given how nutritious it is, so this was the first time I’d tried toasting it. It really does make a difference to the flavour, adding a subtle nuttiness which goes very nicely with the almonds in the salad.
The dressing is lovely, fruity from the blueberries and with that slight creamy flavour that they have, with sweet-sharp balsamic and salty savoury tamari. You don’t need much, but it really makes a difference to the salad!


Toasted quinoa salad with blueberry balsamic dressing

makes 4 servings

for the salad
160 g quinoa, washed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried marjoram
600 ml hot water
1 red pepper, cut into 0.5 to 1 cm dice
2 cooked beetroot, cut into thin wedges
60 g roasted salted almonds
3 tbsp soft herbs to garnish. I used garlic chives, but mint or basil would be lovely too.
for the dressing
50 g blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari

Tip the rinsed quinoa into a deep frying pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring most of the time until the quinoa is dry, has turned golden, and smells toasty. Add the hot water (it will bubble furiously!), marjoram and bay leaf. Simmer for around 25 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is a bit of liquid left when the quinoa is done, turn the heat up and stir continuously until it has evaporated.
Remove the bay leaf, cool the quinoa and mix the red pepper, beetroot and almonds through.
While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Put the blueberries and water in a small saucepan on a low heat and cook until the blueberries have softened and are starting to pop and release their juice. Mine were frozen, and this took about 5 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and tamari and cook gently for a further 4 minutes. Blend the dressing, I used an immersion blender which was a bit tricky due to the small quantity, but worked in the end with a bit of saucepan tipping! Pour into a little pot.
Serve the salad sprinkled with herbs, with the dressing on the side to add as you please.

By E.

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