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In the Kitchen With: Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Toasted Quinoa Salad

by Kristina Gill

Toasted Quinoa salad photo by Alan Benson

This week’s recipe for Toasted Quinoa with Coriander, Lime and Crunchy Pumpkin comes from chef Greg Malouf and food writer Lucy Malouf, authors of the cookbook New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian, their seventh. I was very attracted to this recipe not only because summer is the best time to enjoy wonderful tomatoes, basil, and summer squash, but because it is super quick to pull together, travels well, and can be served at room temperature without losing any flavor. Like the farro salad we had on this column a few weeks ago, this can serve as inspiration for combining your own flavors and ingredients. Perfect for summer when your garden is giving you lots of choices! —Kristina

Why Lucy loves this recipe: There are so many reasons to love this summery salad, not least because it makes a delicious, gluten-free change from the ubiquitous tabbouleh! These days, most of us know that quinoa is a brilliant “superfood,” with high levels of protein, fiber, iron and other essential elements, but it’s also quick and easy to prepare and wonderfully versatile. I also love it for its pretty, pearly sheen. Here, it makes a terrific base to a salad, which is also chock-full of vital, palate-enlivening fresh herbs as well as spicy, citrus flavors from the lime-sumac dressing. Greg and I were so pleased to discover that fried shredded pumpkin (squash) works like fried onions to provide a sweet crunch to the salad and makes a lovely counterpoint to the tangy dressing. It’s best to use a firm squash, like a butternut.

New Feast by Greg and Lucy Malouf

Photography by Alan Benson

Toasted Quinoa with Coriander, Lime and Crunchy Pumpkin
Serves 4

This is a more robust dish than the Cucumber, Quinoa & Tarragon-Yogurt salad on page 178 and, as such, we think the quinoa benefits from a light toasting before cooking, to bring out its nutty flavor.

It is rather common to use fried onion as a crunchy garnish for Middle Eastern dishes and we’ve recently started applying the same treatment to shredded pumpkin (squash), which also has a sweet base note. It works brilliantly! Serve this dish, which is full of spicy, tangy flavours, warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients

– 100 g (3 ½ oz – rounded half cup) quinoa
– 350 ml (12 fl oz) vegetable stock or water
– 150 g (5 ½ oz – 2/3 cup) peeled pumpkin (squash), grated
– 250 ml (9 fl oz) vegetable oil
– ½ teaspoon ground cumin
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
– 3 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and finely diced
– 4 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, diced
– 1 ½ cups coriander (cilantro) leaves, shredded
– ¼ cup purple basil leaves (or use ordinary basil)
– 1 teaspoon Turkish red chilli flakes

Lime-sumac dressing

Ingredients

– juice of ½ lime
– 30 ml (1 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sumac
– ½ teaspoon ground cumin
– salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a small saucepan and dry-fry the quinoa for 2–3 minutes, stirring to ensure it colors evenly. Add the stock or water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 12 minutes – it will bubble vigorously and then settle down. Then tip into a sieve and set aside.

Put the grated pumpkin in a tea towel and squeeze to extract as much moisture as you can.

Heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan until it starts to shimmer. Add the pumpkin to the oil and cook for 4–5 minutes over a medium heat, moving it constantly in the oil to ensure it colors evenly. You may need to do this in batches. Drain in a sieve and then on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Tip the quinoa into a serving bowl and toss through the spring onions, tomatoes, coriander and chilli flakes. Add the dressing and stir well. Top with the fried pumpkin and serve straight away.

Food from New Feast cookbook by Greg and Lucy Malouf

About Greg and Lucy: Acclaimed chef, Greg Malouf, along with writing partner Lucy Malouf, has produced six award-winning cookbooks. In 2012 Greg took over the reins at the iconic Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond, where his Middle Eastern take on seasonal dining helped retain the restaurant’s Michelin star. Greg is now based in Dubai where he opened another restaurant in 2014. Lucy has collaborated with some of the best-known chefs on cookbooks and projects and is regarded as one of the most experienced food editors in the publishing industry.

Reprinted with permission: NEW FEAST: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg & Lucy Malouf (Hardie Grant), Photography: Alan Benson

Portrait of Greg and Lucy Malouf

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Comments

  • This sounds like a great recipe, and I especially like the fact that the quinoa is toasted, but that brings me to a point that puzzles me. I have been researching all about quinoa of late, and how best to cook it. A number of articles state that one of the top quinoa cooking mistakes is not rinsing it thoroughly before cooking. Apparently the grains have a natural bitter coating that should be removed for optimal taste. This recipe does not call for rinsing the quinoa first, and indeed it would be tricky (perhaps impossible) to toast wet quinoa. Does anyone have any thoughts or wisdom about this? Many thanks.

    • Hi Ivana and thanks so much for your interest in the recipe!

      The debate about quinoa – to rinse, or not to rinse – seems endless. I’ve researched it myself and my conclusion is that it’s not necessary to rinse quinoa these days as it is largely industrially produced and arrives on the shelves with the saponin removed (usually by an abrasive process, rather than actually washing it).

      I have done comparisons – rinsing and not rinsing – and found absolutely no difference in flavour.

      However I suppose it does depend on where you buy your quinoa and what sort you buy. If you purchase it loose from a health food/farmers market type of store, for instance, then it may well be more of an artisanal product and not have been pre-rinsed. But the more commercial product available from supermarkets doesn’t need rinsing, in my view.

      That being said, as you’ll have no doubt seen from your browsing, there are many blogs/websites that suggest rinsing quinoa, IRRESPECTIVE of whether or not it’s already been pre-rinsed. So if you are in any doubt, and want to rinse it first, then you CAN still toast the quinoa. After rinsing, drain through a fine sieve then tip it into a tea towel, twist and squeeze tightly to remove as much moisture as you can. (Top Tip: This is the best way to dry bulgur wheat if making tabbouleh etc as well) Proceed with the recipe…it will just take a bit longer to toast the quinoa as you’ll have to evaporate the residual moisture first. Toast in a dry frying pan over a lowish heat until most of the moisture has gone, then increase to medium and toast, stirring frequently, until the quinoa begins to colour and to smell nutty. I do hope this helps! – Lucy Malouf

  • Hi, Ivana, Thank you for your question! I believe that you can heat the rinsed quinoa until the water evaporates and then start to toast it. I have checked with Lucy, however, and will let you know her advice with this recipe! -Kristina

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