Quinoa with Greens and Pistachio Pesto
I do love a Jamie Oliver recipe. His no fuss attitude but careful blend of textures and flavours really is something to be admired and this salad is a good example of that. It made a really tasty and delicious Meat free Monday meal this week.
In his section in this month’s delicious magazine, Jamie includes 4 recipes highlighting the use of grains which, as it says in delicious, are versatile superfoods – affordable, nutrient-rich and easy to use. This salad includes quinoa, which is the seed of a plant native to South America and has an exceptional nutrient profile that few other grains can rival.
Unusually for a plant-based protein source, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, so its protein profile is similar to that found in meat, chicken, fish and eggs. Quinoa is also high in lysine, an amino acid essential for tissue growth and repair. The high quality of quinoa’s protein and amino acid profile make it an important staple for vegetarian and vegans who rely on plant sources to meet their dietary needs. Quinoa is gluten-free, making it a popular choice for people with coeliac disease or who are gluten intolerant. It is high in fibre and low-GI, beneficial for keeping blood sugar levels stable, making it an ideal grain for diabetics. Quinoa also contains notable amounts of manganese, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Wow!
But quinoa is not the only superstar in this salad, it is also full of greeny-goodness. Have a look at this:
Baby spinach leaves – rich in vitamins and minerals, they are also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection
Broccoli – the unique combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-detoxification components in broccoli make it a unique food in terms of cancer prevention. The research is strongest in showing decreased risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and ovarian cancer. Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous, or cabbage, family of vegetables (also known as brassicas). No other vegetable group is as high in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and fibre as the cruciferous vegetables. As a group, the cruciferous vegetables are simply superstars. They also contain glucosinolates, phytonutrients that have been shown to prevent cancer. If you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family, enjoy broccoli and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, with a serving size of 2 cups.
Avocadoes – contain vitamin B6, which helps nerve cells communicate effectively and the immune system function properly. B6 is also needed for the production of red blood cells and plays a role in blood sugar control; folic acid, a B vitamin that helps reduce the build up of homocysteine, a protein that’s been linked to heart disease; vitamin E, thought to protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals; monounsaturated fat, which can help in maintaining a healthy heart; potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure levels; polyphenols and flavonoids (phytonutrients) which have anti-inflammatory properties; as well as the carotenoid lutein, which is known to help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts; soluble fibre, the type that forms a gel in the digestive tract helping you feel full longer after eating; and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body.
Peas – who would have thought that the humble green pea could be so rich in health benefiting phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants! They are an excellent source of folic acid, essential B-complex vitamins, a rich source of many minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese, contain antioxidant flavonoids such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin as well as vitamin-A which is an essential nutrient required for maintaining health of mucus membranes, skin and eye-sight and they contain plant sterols, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels in the body. Eating high fibre legumes – like peas – can help maintain a healthy body weight and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds – a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, and a good source of the minerals zinc, iron, and copper. They also have a diversity of antioxidants that makes them unique in their antioxidant support, including a wide variety of forms of the Vitamin E
Pistachios – are a rich source of the antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. They’re also rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats and have a fair amount of vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium. They also contain plant sterols which help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Basil – contains exceptionally high levels of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin A, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin, a yellow flavonoid carotenoid compound, which helps to protect from age-related macular disease; as well as a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium and is an excellent source of iron. Also contains health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene and terpineol. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
So as Jamie says at the end of the recipe, you can feel good about what you are about to eat.
But regardless of all of this healthy talk, this salad is relatively quick and easy to prepare and very delicious so I encourage you to give it a go!
Quinoa with Greens and Pistachio Pesto
- 80g red quinoa + 80g white quinoa (or 160g mixed coloured quinoa)
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 170g broccoli or broccolini, trimmed
- 100g (a generous 2/3 cup) frozen peas
- 200g baby spinach leaves
- 1 avocado, halved, stone removed, chopped
- 100g feta, crumbled – or use cashew cheese for a vegan alternative
- 100g (2/3 cup) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
- 60g shelled pistachios
- 1/3 cup of basil leaves
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Place the quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20mins, until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is soft (but still retains its bite). If all the water absorbs before the quinoa is cooked, just add a splash more until it is done.
- While the quinoa is cooking, put on another saucepan of water on to boil.
- Once the water has boiled, add the broccoli (or broccolini) and cook for 2 – 3 mins.
- Then, add the frozen peas and cook for another minute or two. Drain and set aside.
- For the pesto, whiz all the ingredients in a blender to a smooth paste. Loosen with a little water if it’s too thick and season to taste.
- Pile the quinoa, broccolini and peas in a bowl, then add spinach, avocado, feta and pumpkin seeds.
- Top with pesto to taste, toss, then feel good about what you’re about to eat – but most importantly enjoy!
Per Serve: 997kJ or 237 calories; P 12g Fat 19g SFat 4g CHO 18g Fibre 6g