Although I'd generally say that everything tastes best when you make it yourself from scratch, sometimes I'm just willing to compromise in flavour in order to pull a meal together quickly as I have done here.
I know chickpeas have a better texture and creaminess if you steep dried ones the night before, quinoa tastes better freshly cooked and home pickled beetroot definitely beats the pants off shop-bought pickled beetroot any day. However sometimes your time can just be spent better doing other things. So instead of steeping, boiling and pickling I put our youngest to bed last night and had big long chat with her about nothing and yet everything; I walked Winnie (my miniature long-haired Dachshund) in the park whilst the sun was shining this morning, and I tended to my flourishing vegetables - more on that another day!
So for today's quick and easy salad... the chickpeas came out of a tin, the beetroot was pickled by M&S and the quinoa was microwaved for 45 seconds thanks to Merchants! It's a nutty, protein packed lunch, with a fresh lemon dressing, topped with a good dollop of creamy greek yogurt that can be made quickly and transports well if needs be.
The nasturtium flower is obviously optional - I used it just because they've just come into bloom in the garden and it adds to the artistic value of the photo... the salad will taste equally good without it. Likewise the beetroot leaves can be replaced with a salad leaf mix like rocket and watercress _ I just have them so I used them. So as always feel free to get in touch and let me know how the salad worked out for you and what changes if any you made. Sx.
1 Red Onion, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil, or Olive Oil Spray
200g tinned Chickpeas, rinsed and outer soft shell removed
75g Pumpkin Seeds, toasted for a few minutes
Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
Handful of Fresh Parsley Leaves, chopped
100g (or more if you’re particularly hungry) of Precooked Microwavable Quinoa (I used Merchants’ Gourmet Red & White Mixed)
½ Avocado, or all of it if you fancy it
8-10 Pickled Baby Beetroot, home cooked or shop bought (I used M&S Rosebud Beetroot), halved or sliced
Beetroot leaves from young Beets, or a watercress/rocket mixture or leaves, rinsed
1 tablespoon good quality Olive Oil
0% Fat Greek Yogurt to serve
Nasturtium Flower for decoration (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220℃/425°F.
Put the cut onions in a roasting tin and spray with olive oil or mix with a tablespoon of olive oil. Grind fresh pepper over the onions along with a large pinch of salt. Mix well together and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring at the 10 minute mark. When roasted, soft and slightly coloured put to the side and leave to cool.
Shell the chickpeas and put to one side.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes until they puff up. Put onto a side plate and leave to cool.
Roughly chop the herb leaves, and put to one side.
Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions.
Cut or slice the pickled beetroots.
Half and peel the avocado, then cut into slices. Use the whole avocado if you fancy it.
Make the dressing:
Zest the whole lemon and put the zest in a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half. Juice one half of the lemon and put it in with the zest. Using a knife, peel the skin and pith off the second half of the lemon and remove the lemon segment flesh. Add the lemon flesh to the zest and juice and mix together. Whisk in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Assemble the salad:
Place the beetroot leaves and avocado on a serving plate.
In a large bowl mix together the red onions, quinoa, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and fresh herbs. Add the lemon dressing and gently mix together again. Spoon the mixture over the beetroot leaves.
Add the pickled beetroot and top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a nasturtium leave for decoration. Serve at room temperature.