02 July 2010

Superfood Salad

This is perhaps my second favorite salad, following this one, but I end up making it about ten times as often, due to the lack of crazy amounts of chopping involved and the kitchen sink nature of the thing. It was inspired by yet another UK chef, Allegra McVeddy of Leon, and the Leon collection of cookbooks. I've never been to any of the Leon locations, but can pretty much imagine I would love it. With things on the menu such as "green sunshine salad" and an entire category of "superfood salads" (six different versions!), how could I not love it?  They make their own ketchup for godsakes. 
Alas, I don't live in London, so I'm happy to make due with recipes and inspiration pulled from Ms. McVeddy's weekly Guardian column. My version of her original superfood salad uses Quinoa as a base rather than a garnish.  For a dinner-time salad I want something that feels more substantial than flimsy lettuce thrown together, so a bowlful of barely cooled quinoa fits the bill and adds some warmth. I also skip the seeds and nuts added at Leon, and opt for more herbs, further omitting the Leon addition of sprouts. Try as I may, I can't get too excited about sprouts. Generally I serve all of the ingredients at room temperature, letting the steamed broccoli and peas/edamame cool while the quinoa is cooking. The tomatoes add a bit of cool to the salad and combined with basil, a sense of summertime.  
Superfood Salad 
Inspired by Allegra McVeddy
serves 2
1/2 cup Quinoa
2 cups Arugula or baby Spinach
1 cup Frozen or Fresh Broccoli
Handful Peas (or substitute Edamame) -- about 1/3 cup depending on how much you like peas
2 ripe tomatoes
1/3 long English cucumber (if you can't find, I suggest using about 3-4 inches of a regular cuke and removing part of the skin if it is especially thick/waxy, my mother used to do this creating a decorative stripe pattern)
Large handful of chopped Basil (or substitute Cilantro or Flat-leaf Parsley) 
2 whole poached Chicken breasts (or prepared rotisserie chicken)
Dressing: 2 tablespoons hummus of your choice or, if you must, extra garlic-y aioli.
Begin by washing and straining quinoa in a fine sieve, then heat a large saucepan and add quinoa. Toast the quinoa, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, and then add 1 cup plus 1 tbsp water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Check quinoa periodically to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
In a separate small saucepan add about 1/2 inch of water, bring to a boil and add broccoli.  Cover and steam for 3 minutes until just barely cooked, drain in a colander, shake away any hot water and place in refrigerator to cool for a minute while you prepare the peas or edamame in the same fashion (steaming for 5 minutes).  
Chop basil and any other herbs roughly. Chop tomato and cuke coarsely. If using rotisserie chicken, remove and shred all of the meat, removing skin. Depending on the size of your chicken, you will likely not need all of the chicken for two people. If using poached chicken breasts, let cool and cut into chunks. 
In two bowls, place a handful of arugula or spinach (I typically rip it somewhat with my hands), divide the quinoa between the two bowls atop the greens. Top with peas/edamame, broccoli, tomato, cucumber, then a generous few spoonfuls of either hummus or aioli, followed by herbs, seasoning slightly with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Dig in. 

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