This is my favourite autumnal lunchtime salad; when you still fancy something salady but maybe a little more substantial. Also, our wonderful avocado man appears in the local market around mid-September – so any excuse to add an avocado to a recipe?
Quinoa needs no introduction; high in protein and is super good for you. It’s perfect for bulking up salads, adding to wraps and stuffing in lunch boxes. Cook a batch and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Za’atar, the herb, as opposed to Za’atar, the spice mix, is a Middle Eastern aromatic herb traditionally used as a seasoning for vegetables and meat. Or as a popular topping for hummus. It’s also used fresh in a salad or baked on flatbreads. The intense flavour gives an instant boost to vegetables. I recommend buying a from a specialist Middle Eastern store – the supermarket version will not be as good. A herb well worth having in your cupboard (Greek oregano would make an ideal alternative).
Quinoa Salad Ingredients
Any spicy salad mix such as mesclun, or rocket with crunchy green lettuce. Avocado, of course, finely sliced spring onion and peeled cucumber to give it some crunch. Top it with a handful of seeds or, as I have done with pomegranate seeds which are just about in season.😬 Pomegranates are another very popular Middle Eastern ingredient; they are ideal for giving a zing to salads or dips and are particularly delicious with aubergines.
For the Za’atar Dressing
A simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil – in equal parts whisked in with 1/2 tsp za’atar, and a pinch each of chilli flakes, cumin and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little pinch of salt and a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses (or orange juice).
Rinse the quinoa, and bring to boil (uncovered) with double its weight in water; 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Once boiling, turn it down to a simmer until all the water is absorbed. For one cup, this takes about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 6-8 minutes. Gently fluff the grains with a fork to separate them.
Find more salads here.
Quinoa Salad and Za’atar Dressing
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup quinoa of your choice
- ¼ sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (juice small lemon)
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses or fresh orange juice
- ½ tsp dried za'atar (or Greek Oregano)
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- pinch cumin
- pinch chilli flakes
- 1 avocado – cut into thin slices
- ⅓ cucumber peeled and sliced
- ½ small pale green pepper (de-seeded and thinly sliced) optional
- 1 spring onion – cut finely diagonally using plenty of the green leaf
- large handful mixed salad leaves
- sprig mint leaves
- handful pomegranate seeds
- Rinse and bring to boil (uncovered) with double its volume in water; ½ cup of quinoa needs 1½ cups of water.
- Once boiling, turn it down to a simmer until all the water is absorbed. For ½-1 cup, this takes about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and leave covered for 6-8 minutes.
- In the bottom of the salad bowl whisk together the oil, lemon and pomegranate or orange juice. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk again.
Assembling the Salad
- Peel and slice the cucumber, avocado, spring onion and green pepper and toss into the bowl.
- Fluff the quinoa with a fork and add to the salad bowl, gently tossing to ensure everything is coated in dressing.
- If you are serving immediately, you can toss the salad leaves and sprinkle them with the pomegranate seeds. If not, cover and leave in the fridge and then add in the remaining ingredients just before you want to serve.