Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Wholesome Food - Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

Recently I was on the lookout for a good, hearty salad.  A salad that included carrots.

I grow carrots, specifically I've chosen to grow (along with the orange ones) purple carrots.  Did you know that carrots were not traditionally orange?  They were bred that way by the Dutch.  Purple carrots have more antioxidants than the orange ones, and generally look cooler anyway.

The carrots above were still pretty young when I took this picture, but you get the idea (see the two less-cool looking orange ones hiding in there too).  They're purple on the outside, and orange on the inside, and a friend of mine commented randomly one day that they must look really cook when you shave them - orange and purple stripey.

That comment became the basis for this "recipe" if you can call a salad a recipe.

I like to use:

Kale (curly and as fresh as possible)
Cherry tomatoes
Sharp cheddar
Balsamic vinegar

The first few times I made this I used fresh peas as well, but those are past their season now and I really just threw them in to use up the last few pods.

I'm pretty bad with giving people amounts to use, but here's a rough guide that you can fiddle with as you please:

For 4-6 side salads, or one main with 3 lunches

1 tin of Chickpeas -  drained and washed
1/2 -1 cup (uncooked) quinoa -  I like to cook it in chicken broth
4 strips of smoked bacon - cooked crispy and crumbled into the salad
1-2 large leaves of kale - remove the stems and tear the leaves into small to medium sized pieces
3-4 carrots, with their tops (depending on size and just how much carrot you want to use) - wash them well and then use a vegetable peeler to peel strips off the carrot into the salad.  The carrot tops are useful when doing this because it gives you something to hold onto, but it's not imperative.

Toss these all together, add in avocado, tomatoes and cucumber until it looks good to you.  At this point I add in a small amount of finely grated sharp cheddar.  It gives it a good zing which compliments the sweetness of the carrots.  Glug in balsamic to suit.  No oil is needed, and while you could use other vinegar, I think balsamic really suits the flavours.

This salad is crazy good.  I made it for a friend who is obsessed with salads and makes them constantly, and she told me it was the best salad she had ever had.  No joke.  It's earthy, and sweet, and a little salty, and tangy, and super healthy and filling.  Crazy yum.  

The first time I made this I thought it was gorgeous - greens, reds, purples, white/yellow - a true rainbow on a plate.  I took a picture and, frankly, the picture looks awful.  I tried playing with Picassa to make it look cool and arty but there's no saving it.  I'll upload one when I can get a good shot. 

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