I realize it is only late February, but this week I have been feeling the promise of spring in the air. Maybe I am noticing it because I was away for a few days, but suddenly the days seem longer – the light lingers until evening instead of fading in the afternoon. And that tree by the door – it is full of tight little green buds that are ready to burst into life.
Suddenly I was craving colourful and fresh foods (with a bit of substance as there is still a crisp edge to the day). This quinoa salad hit the spot: vibrant and soothing at the same time.
A handful of broad beans thrown in adds a boost of protein, fiber, potassium and energy-providing B vitamins. Broad beans are also known as fava, butter, Windsor, horse or even English beans. Dicke Bohnen in German and tuinbonen Dutch. Shelling them takes a few minutes, but I loved peeling back the wintery grey shell to reveal that fresh nugget of powerful green. The earthy taste of the beans is echoed by the creamy avocado and is then contrasted by the zing of the radishes and lemon juice.
I have made this salad a few times and have noticed that sometimes I love the strong zingy flavour of the lemon whereas other days I really want a more mellow flavour. (And sometimes I am just too lazy to segment a lemon.) Depending on your mood you can leave out the lemon segments and use more or less juice.
For a simple lunch the salad with some crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic. It is also makes a great dinner paired with a chicken filet or a steak.
Or if you are like me and cannot choose: split your portion into two before adding the avocado. Have half for dinner with some chicken halloumi skewers (recipe to follow soon) and the rest the next day for lunch.
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’)
200g quinoa (or leftover cooked quinoa)
500g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen) (NL: tuin bonen DE: Dicke Bohnen)
2 ripe avocado
50g purple radish cress (or small purple basil leaves or regular garden cress)
1 tbsp ground cumin
75 ml olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
salt and black pepper
- Rinse the quinoa in a sieve (that removes the bitter flavour.) Place in saucepan with 1,5 times the amount of water. Bring to the boil. Place on the smallest burner on the lowest heat and allow to cook about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to stand 5 min. Spread on a plate and allow to cool. (for the original method Ottolenghi uses see “Tips”)
- Bring water to the boil. Throw the beans into the water. Bring the water back to the boil and then immediately drain and rinse the beans. Gently press each bean to pop it out of its shell.
- Optional: Cut the bottom and top off each lemon. Stand each one on the chopping board and cut of the rind and white from top to bottom following the curve of the lemon.
- Over a bowl slice in between the membranes to cut out each of the lemon segments. Add segments to the bowl and squeeze in any juice that is left in the membranes.
- Cut the avocado in half right up to the stone. Separate the two halves. Use a knife to cut the avocado into cubes inside the skin. Spoon out the cubes and add them to the bowl of lemon.
- Slice the radish into thin slices.
- Combine quinoa, avocado the lemon segments (and some or all of) the lemon juice, the radish and half the cress. Season with cumin, oil, chili, salt and pepper. Carefully toss and check the seasoning.
- Plate and top with remaining half of cress.
- For lunch: just some crusty bread
- For dinner: with chicken halloumi skewers or chicken filet, steak, kofta, chicken zucchini meatballs
Tips & Tricks
Ottolenghi prepares the quinoa for this dish by bringing it to the boil with plenty of water and allowing it to simmer for 9 min. He then drains it in a fine sieve, rinses it with water and leaves it to dry.
Some of the health benefits
- Folate participates in biochemical processes that create genetic material, build cells and metabolize amino acids. It’s so essential for the growth and development of new cells that it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before and during early pregnancy. Everyone needs folate to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup of cooked broad beans contains 44 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.
- Iron: Most beans, including broad beans, are good sources of iron. One cup of broad beans has 3 milligrams of iron, which is 32 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. In addition to carrying oxygen throughout the body, iron-dependent enzymes sense when oxygen levels drop and initiate processes that allow the body to compensate. Iron supports the immune system by functioning as an antioxidant that protects the white blood cells responsible for destroying bacteria.
- Zinc: Enzymes are proteins that activate and speed up chemical processes inside your body. Almost 100 enzymes depend on zinc to fulfill their roles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In this role, zinc is vital for normal growth and development. Zinc deficiencies can cause growth retardation and delayed neurological development. Your immune system also suffers if you don’t get enough zinc. Decreased levels of zinc are associated with fewer white bloods cells available to fight invading pathogens and infection. The zinc from 1 cup of broad beans provides 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 21 percent for women.
- Parkinson’s: If you have Parkinson’s disease, talk to your physician before eating broad beans. Broad beans are a natural source a levodopa, which is converted into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is one of the medications used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but consuming levodopa from broad beans can cause both good or bad effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their possible impact should be assessed by a doctor familiar with your condition.