Quinoa seeds are easy to cook and prepare. Similar to rice, they require only quick, gentle cooking with water. Quinoa seeds can be used to make porridge, or savoury salads and stews. They are fairly plain tasting, so are best combined with sharp flavours such as lemon juice or zest, or a little vinegar and oil.
200g (1 cup) quinoa
2 cups Japanese pumpkin, roughly cut into 1-2 cm cubes
½ cup finely chopped mint
½ cup finely chopped parsley
zest from ½ lemon
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
1. Place pumpkin on roasting tray, sprinkle with a little olive oil or cooking fat and roast in preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes or until brown and crispy. Allow to cool.
2. Cook quinoa. To cook, simply rinse well in cold running water (quinoa seeds contain a bitter compound called saponins on their skin, which requires this rinsing), then combine one part rinsed quinoa to two parts water in a small saucepan. Simmer with the lid off for 10-15 minutes or until the seed splits forming little curls and the water is absorbed. Season to taste. Toss through some olive or sunflower oil while still warm to prevent clumping.Drain well and allow to cool.
3. Crush the hazelnuts with a mortar and pestle, or a paper bag and rolling pin. They should be broken into halves or quarters so that they are easy to chew.
4. Combine all the ingredients together, adding the mint and hazelnuts at the end. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.
Variation: Try adding a half cup of dried cranberries for added zest, or a handful of crumbled fetta cheese for extra creaminess.