Quinoa takes on pretty much any flavour you throw at it and one of my favourite ways to cook it is to add tahini. And I’ve recently discovered that tahini actually goes really well with beetroot – think sweet and smoky – whilst the root vegetable’s earthiness is brightened by the acidity of the lemon, another flavour that quinoa embraces.
Prepare and cook the beetroot before cooking the quinoa. Either boil them or, if you have the luxury of time, chop each vegetable in half, prick a couple of times and roast in the oven, with a bit of water, on 180 degrees for an hour or so until tender and yielding. Whichever method you use, it is far easier to slip beetroot skins off after cooking (run them under the tap to cool first).
Ingredients (4 generous servings)
About 10-12 beetroots (typically 2 supermarket bunches) – roughly 700-800g
Oil for frying (I use 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil)
3 large onions
1-2 cloves of garlic
A small, mild chilli (optional)
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder (optional) – dissolved in 400ml of boiling water
2-3 tablespoonfuls of tahini paste
- Dice the onions and fry with a splash of oil/teaspoon of coconut oil. Add the garlic and chilli if using. Cube the cooked beetroot.
- When the onions are beginning to turn golden, add the beetroot and cook for a couple of minutes whilst you rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove any bitterness from the grains’ coating.
- Shake the quinoa to remove as much water as possible then tip into the onions and beetroots. Stir well in order to let the quinoa ‘dry fry’ for a few minutes to enhance the nutty taste of the grains.
- Whilst the quinoa is dry frying, sprinkle in some salt (go easy if you are using vegetable stock), apple cider vinegar, tahini and lemon juice. Adding these ingredients before the water (and stock, if using) will enable the quinoa to suck in all of these flavours as it cooks.
- I tend to cook quinoa, and indeed most grains, like you would for a risotto: i.e. adding water in bit by bit as it needs it. Quinoa tends to need around twice as much water to grains, so if you don’t want to hover nearby whilst it’s cooking, add 400 ml of water initially, give it a good stir and bring to the boil.
- Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook. It’s done when the majority of the grains open up, revealing the spiral kernel. Make sure all the water is absorbed by boiling vigorously towards the end of the cooking time if necessary.
- When the quinoa is cooked, remove from the heat and pop the saucepan lid on and leave for a couple of minutes to allow the grains to ‘fluff’ up. Taste and check for seasoning – you might want to add some more tahini paste, for example – before serving.
Coriander, mint, parsley and dill; all four of these herbs will work well as a garnish, or an integral flavour.
A medium bodied, simple red with high acidity such as Louis Latour Red Burgundy