Black Beans and Quinoa (4)


Just as I substitute rice noodles for pasta, I do the same thing with quinoa for rice. It is like a blank canvas and soaks up flavors whilst at the same time providing protein. Tomatoes, black beans, garlic and some spices (depending on how spicy you like your dishes you can use less than I do) round out this recipe.

2 cups of boiling water

1 cup quinoa

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – grated

2 cups of canned chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. harissa paste (or less)

1 tsp. cumin (or less)

1 x 15oz. can of black beans

1 1/2 cups chicken or veg. broth

Pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the quinoa, bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff through with a fork and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Place oil in a frying pan and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and brown slightly, then add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes, mix in the harissa paste and cumin , add the beans and broth and bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked quinoa and serve immediately


Lightly Curried Chicken, Spinach and Quinoa (4)


A healthy dinner on the table in a short space of time and any leftovers are great cold and would work well as a packed lunch. The curry flavor is mild –  just a hint really – though you could alter that to your taste and comes in the form of a dressing. The chicken and onion are poached together in aluminum foil. Peanuts and raisins in added to the mix. All in all, a nicely different dish.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 x chicken breasts – cut into 1 inch slices

1/2 a medium onion – cut into slices, then halve the slices and separate into individual pieces

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of boiling water

10 oz. baby spinach

Handful of unsalted peanuts – chopped

1/2 oz raisins

1 tsp. curry powder

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 dessertspoon mango chutney

Put a piece of aluminum foil in an oven-proof dish and place chicken and onion slices on top. Pour the 2 tbsp. of oil over, season with salt and pepper and mix together. Make a little parcel with the aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. After cooking, cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, place quinoa in a saucepan, add boiling water, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Place spinach in a large lidded pan,  add a little boiling water and cook for just a few minutes until spinach is wilted. Drain, then wrap spinach in a clean T-towel. When it is cool enough to touch, wring the T-towel to get rid of excess water, then chop the spinach.

Mix curry powder, apple cider vinegar and mango chutney together, add oil whisk well together.

To assemble, place quinoa in a large bowl, add the chicken, onion and their juices, chopped spinach peanuts and raisins. Pour over the curry dressing and mix well together.

North African Salad (serves 4)

North African Salad (serves 4)

Probably not at all North African but has bits and pieces that remind me of those kinds of dishes. I remember my first couscous dish, actually eaten in France with an Algerian colleague who, when I said I had never heard of such a dish, took me to a really authentic traditional restaurant where customers sat on low seats or the floor and I think some people ate with their hands. It was quite an eye-opener! The dish was delicious but I never cooked it for years because couscous was not readily available in the UK back in the day. The base of this salad is quinoa to which I added dried apricots, chickpeas, red onion, cilantro/coriander, chopped cashew nuts and orange juice. All chopping can be done in the 10 minutes it takes the quinoa to cook.

1 cup of quinoa cooked in 2 cups of water

2 tbsp. dried apricots – chopped into little pieces

2 tbsp. red onion – finely chopped

2 tbsp. cilantro/coriander – finely chopped

2 tbsp. chopped cashew nuts

Juice and pulp of 1 orange

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tuna and Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

Tuna and Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

2015 is going to be the year that I will try hard to source my meat and fish from organic/wild sources. I also think I will be eating a lot more vegetarian dishes.
This salad uses tuna. Tuna is not farmed (good thing). Tuna contains mercury (not a good thing). The tuna I use comes in a glass container (a good thing) and is bottled in spring water and salt (a good thing – no preservatives). It is wild caught (good thing).
My salad consists of quinoa, tuna, scallions/spring onions, chickpeas, peas and anchovies with an optional vinaigrette (lemon in my case).

1 cup quinoa cooked in 2 cups of water and cooled
8 oz frozen peas – cooked and cooled
1 x 6.7oz jar of tuna (Tonnino tuna fillets in spring water, wild caught)
1 bunch scallions/spring onions – finely chopped
6 anchovies – finely chopped
1 avocado – diced
1 can chickpeas – rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon vinaigrette – optional

Place quinoa in a salad bowl.
Add cooked peas, tuna (broken up into small pieces), scallions, anchovies, avocado and chickpeas.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add lemon vinaigrette (optional) (juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

This recipe just came to me for some bizarre reason when I was cooking my vegetable curry yesterday. The first time I had stuffed tomatoes was when I was an au pair in France. The mother was thrilled when she knew I could cook as she hated cooking. She taught me her recipes and then I made them on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. So alongside stuffed tomatoes, there was (naturally) quiche, steak hache and sometimes tartare, roast chicken (and when we vacationed in Scotland it was roast rabbit!). There must have been other dishes in her repertoire but other than soup in an alarming pressure cooker, I don’t remember them.

Her stuffed tomatoes contained ground beef, rice, tomato and parsley. Mine contain chicken sausage, onion, garlic, tomato, spinach, quinoa and the secret ingredient, Dijon Mustard. I deconstructed the chicken sausage (Al Fresco brand, though it did contain the dreaded ‘natural flavors’ (somehow they are not artificial ingredients!)) i.e. took off the skin and chopped them up. The stuffed tomatoes looked quite jaunty as they went in the oven as I popped the top of the tomato on the stuffing like a hat! I stuffed 4 large tomatoes but could have stuffed 6 if I needed to. As I fed these to the children I looked after in France, these might appeal to children everywhere.

1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 of a large onion – finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic – finely chopped

4 large, ripe tomatoes – tops cut off, insides put in a bowl and chopped up

2 x chicken sausages – skinned and chopped into little pieces

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

5 oz baby spinach – cooked and chopped

2 teasp. Dijon mustard

Heat seasoned oil in a skillet, when sizzling add onion and garlic and soften.

In a bowl put the insides of the tomatoes, the softened onions and garlic, chopped chicken sausage, quinoa, chopped spinach and the mustard. Mix together well.

Fill the tomato shells with the mixture, top with a ‘hat’ of tomato.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

Quinoa Salad with Chicken and More (serves 4)

recipe photo 22Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Chickpeas and More (serves 4)

I am taking this with me on the plane as I have to be really careful with airline food to avoid mid-air disaster! I mixed quinoa with slices of chicken tenders and then added chopped red onion, black and green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro and a can of chickpeas – lots of different flavors and textures. Then I mixed in a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Leave out the chicken and you have a very nice vegetarian/vegan salad.

6 x chicken tenders – cooked and sliced
2 cups boiling water
1 cup quinoa
1 can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
1/2 a small red onion – chopped
2 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil – roughly chopped
2 tbsp. black and green olives – pitted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro – finely chopped
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Cook chicken tenders and slice when cool.
Cook quinoa in boiling water until all water is absorbed.
When quinoa and chicken are cooled add red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and cilantro.
In a jar mix lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and give jar a good shake to emulsify the dressing.
Pour over salad and serve.

Hearty Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

recipe photo 15Hearty Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

Quinoa has replaced rice in my diet. It is less bland than rice but can still be a backdrop for many other flavors. This salad contains chicken tenders cooked in aluminum foil along with lemon juice and olive oil, cucumber, dried cranberries, avocado and hearts of palm. The lemon juice and olive oil are poured over the salad as a type of dressing. Hearts of Palm are great in a salad. I have only ever had them from a can but they are derived from certain types of palm tree and contain potassium and vitamin B-6. If you want to omit the chicken, the salad is fine for vegetarians and vegans. It would be good in a lunchbox at work/picnic.

2 cups boiling water
1 cup quinoa
6 chicken tenders
Juice of 1 lemon – freshly squeezed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cucumber – diced
3 x hearts of palm – chopped up
Handful of dried cranberries
1 x avocado – diced

Cook quinoa in boiling water then place in a large bowl and let cool.
Place chicken tenders on a large piece of aluminum foil and pour over lemon juice and olive oil. Season, then cook for some 20 minutes in oven, then let cool and slice.
When quinoa is cool add the cucumber,cranberries, hearts of palm, avocado and chicken slices.
Pour over lemon juice and oil and mix well together.