Sunday, 29 January 2012

Quick AND Good-for-you: Quinoa and 'Stuff' Salad

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One of the most difficult things about eating healthily is the time, energy, and money it requires.  I know it's worth it – we all know that – and the bf and I are lucky enough to usually have the time (if not always the money), but some people have half an hour at best in which to assemble a meal, and often that's simply not long enough to prep and cook something truly healthy.  So we fall back on ready meals or eating out, telling ourselves it'll be 'just this once' and then falling into patterns that are, if not unhealthy (after all, frozen fish cakes aren't exactly on par with McDonald's), not as healthy as they could be.

But there's a way to make healthy meals much faster, without always relying on completely prepared dishes: using some pre-cooked ingredients to make food that's almost from-scratch.  Apparently, some lady named Sandra Lee has sort of hit upon this (not the healthy part, though, from what I hear) in a show called Semi-Homemade.  But my version is much less terrifying: roast chickens from the supermarket, shredded up to make chicken noodle soup; pre-chopped onions and pre-peeled garlic cloves to make your pasta prep go faster; and this latest discovery, pre-cooked quinoa.

I've been interested in trying new grains for a while now.  I love farro and quinoa and pearl barley in salads and soups, but I just really can't be bothered to cook them before I use them in recipes – I found that out when I bought a selection of grains and let them languish in the cupboard for months on end.  So when I saw this pre-cooked quinoa at Waitrose I was immediately sold on the idea.  It only languished in the cupboard for a week or so before I realized I had no idea what to make for lunch one day, spotted it, and pulled a bunch of random stuff from the fridge.  I cut it all up, put it in a bowl with the quinoa, added some oil and vinegar and salt and pepper, e violà: fancy deli salad!  Sort of.  I'm sure I've got a ways to go on figuring out the flavor combos, but I thought it was pretty delicious, especially when I put it in a tortilla and made myself a healthy little wrap.  Next time I'll add some fresh lemon juice if I have any lemons.

Essentially, this is less a recipe than an idea: if you see any pre-cooked grains, grab 'em, and if not maybe cook up a bunch on the weekend and keep it in the fridge, and you can have deli salads and wraps for lunch all week!

Recipe of sorts:

In a bowl, stir together:
     2c pre-cooked quinoa
     1/2 block feta cheese
     1 yellow bell pepper, diced
     salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
     pinch dried basil
     splash red wine vinegar
     splash olive oil

Eat with a fork or wrap up in tortillas, preferably while watching this video.  Store any extra in the fridge for another day. 


  1. Hey! I love this! Love quinoa didn't spot that at Waitrose! Your rock. Thanks for the recipe. Evalyn

  2. Hey Evalyn,

    I don't know if all the Waitrose shops carry the pre-cooked quinoa – we got ours in our Ocado shop (online), but I bet you could find it if you asked. It's a great way to clear out the random bits and bobs in the fridge!



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