Salads
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Mister Quinoa – Fresh Cucumber, Cherry tomatoes & Raspberry Summer Salad

Summer has been quite good to me so far. I’ve started my holidays a month ago already, which is something that a few of my friends did not fully appreciate (but I certainly get why hihi…jealousy!), and am now ready to start working more, not for the blog only, simply because I find holidays tiring after a while.

I guess I am now ready to move on and get a little more active because I finally got my university results. These were very good, even though one was hard to swallow. I feel grateful as well as proud looking at them, simply because after all the things I’ve been through for the past two years, succeeding at university while creating my blog and keeping some social relationships was my sole goal…and as far as I am concerned, I’ve reached it with excellency.

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Anyway, now that I’ve announced the good news, let’s move on to the recipe. A week ago, I’ve had the chance to go to a local farm, close to my hometown, where red fruits are harvested all summer long. Last time, my mother and I picked about 3 kilos of fresh raspberries, which is a quite large amount I believe! Since we did have some left, I thought that creating a sweet summer salad recipe would be the best idea, especially for the temperature has never stopped going up for the past few weeks.

I’ve created a winter quinoa salad already and thought that making a summer version could be interesting. The mix of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and fresh herbs gives a fresh and flavourful twist to this salad, which is perfectly balanced with the sweet tone of the fresh raspberries and the sultanas. Grilling the avocado brings it to another level, giving him a crispy yet soft texture. And last but not least, the sweet sauce, made out of a balsamic reduction, binds all the ingredients together, ending up with a delicious whirlwind of amazing flavours…a must-try of this year’s summer!

If you’re not a big fan of these sweet and savoury mixes, simply leave the raspberries and sultanas out or replace them with others vegetables (dried tomatoes, artichokes, etc.). You could as well add some seeds or nuts to this recipe, such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts, etc. The possibilities are endless!

And because my recipes always have some benefits here are some of the raspberries’ powers. First, they are full of flavonoids and antioxidants, which help supressing inflammation (that may lead to cardiovascular diseases) and fighting against free radicals (which inhibit tumour growth). Secondly, the fibre and water content of the raspberries help maintaining a healthy digestive system, keeping the excretion of toxins on and is shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Last but not least, its huge amount of vitamin C helps protecting the eyes against UV light damage and the presence of zeaxanthin (an antioxidant) is thought to play a role in warding off damage from macular degeneration. Let’s go raspberries folks!

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Summer Red Quinoa, Avocado & Raspberry Salad

Portions: For two servings.

Preparation time: 25 minutes.

Cooking time: 25 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 150g of red quinoa + 4dl of cold water
  • ½ of a cucumber, peeled & cut in small squares
  • 100g of cherry tomatoes, cut vertically
  • 75g of fresh raspberries
  • ½ of an avocado, stoned, minced & grilled
  • 45g of sultanas
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • ½ of a lemon, the juice & zest
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Method

(1) Run the uncooked quinoa under cold water, before, bringing it to a boil, along with the water and a pinch of salt. Let it simmer on medium heat until all the water has been absorbed (or that the thin white envelops of the grains split up). Once cooked, cover the saucepan for about ten minutes, just to let the quinoa swell, before incorporating air with the help of a fork. Spread it on a clean plate so that it cools off.

(2) In a large mixing bowl, gently mix the cucumber, the cherry tomatoes, the fresh raspberries, the sultanas and the fresh herbs together. Set aside.

(3) Once you’ve stoned and sliced the avocado, grill it in a very hot saucepan (add a little oil if you’d like it to be crispier). One to two minutes on each side is enough. Set the slices on a paper towel so that the fat excess is absorbed.

(4) In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar. Bring it to a gentle boil and let it thicken up for about 3 minutes. Let cool off before adding the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and correctly stirring together.

(5) Assemble the salad: Add the cooked and chilled quinoa to the vegetable mix, cover with the sauce and stir it together, so that everything’s covered. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for about two hours, so that all the flavours come out beautifully. Serve with the avocado slices and some hummus if you’d like! Bon appétit!

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