Quinoa and pecan salad

When SheWhoMustBeFed and I first started eating quinoa, many moons ago, we had never heard it pronounced, only read it. So for an embarrassingly long period of time we pronounced it “kwin-oh-a”. I can’t recall whether our verbal fumblings were ever met with a knowingly condescending smile; probably not as it wasn’t anywhere near as popular as it is now, so in all likelihood we never came across anyone who knew any better than we did. At some point we learned of our mistake and in a scene earily prescient of this we said to each other “Oh, it’s kinwah, not kwin-oh-a. Honestly being vegan is a nightmare. It’s no wonder we don’t have any friends.”

Now of course we are infinitely cleverer and wiser than before, because not only do we know how to pronounce quinoa, we also know that cranberries aren’t meant to be sweet. For a time we lived in that wide, wild and wacky land The Yoonited States of A-merica where cranberries are always sweet, and cranberry juice tastes like a large bottle of deeply purple sugar. In actual fact drinking a glass of natural, unadulterated cranberry juice has an affect something like sticking the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner into your mouth. All the spit in your mouth will instantly disappear, your cheeks will suck in tight, and once you’ve managed again to draw breath you will say “Well, that was a little sourer than I expected.” In this recipe, try to use dried unsweetened cranberries if you can get them. Sweetened works OK, but in our humble (cleverer and wiser) opinion, the tartness of dried, unsweetened cranberries will do it more justice.

Credit: This recipe came from elsewhere. I’d like to say where, but all I can tell you is that it has been cut out of a magazine and stuck into SheWhoMustBeFed’s recipe scrapbook. It was probably an American magazine, as the recipe called for “cilantro” as opposed to “coriander”. So, credit to the original creator and also the publisher of the magazine which printed it on a green page sometime.

Ingredients ((ɪnˈɡriːdɪənts):

  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cups of quinoa
  • 1 bunch shallots, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup of coriander
  • 3/4 cup of finely sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper

Method (meTHəd):

  • Boil the water, add the quinoa, stir and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft (approx. 25 minutes, but keep an eye on it)
  • Lightly toast the pecans
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, allow to cool to room temperature, then combine everything except for the pecans in a large serving bowl.
  • Ideally, allow to sit and stew for an hour before serving at room temperature. Stir the pecans through just before serving so they are still a bit crunchy.


Sesame beetroot stems

Green eggs and ham.
Fred and Ginger.
Imperialism and the industrial military complex.
Beetroot and sesame.

Some things in the universe are just natural pairings.

Our options to explore these pairings are naturally limited. Don’t eat eggs or ham, Fred and Ginger are worm food, and trying the bomb the world into peace is misguided in the VegHead’s humble opinion. That leaves us with beetroot and sesame, which is hardly a poor choice…

This is sufficient to make a side dish for two. If you want to extend it and have no more stems to hand, add some grated raw beetroot, or some diced cooked beetroot (you probably have the fresh stems because you just bought a clutch of fresh beetroot, after all).

Needing to have…

  • Stems and leaves from 4+ fresh beetroots
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds; roasted
  • 2 tablespoons of light tahini
  • 1 teaspoon of tamari
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Needing to do…

  • Wash the stems and leaves; discarding any cruddy bits
  • Chop the stems into lengths of approximately 5cms
  • Chop the leaves
  • Blanch the stems in a covered pot in a very small amount of water. After a minute or so add the leaves (basically the leaves take a little less time than the stems do to cook – once you’ve done this once you’ll get a feel for it). Add the tamari at the same time.
  • The leaves will cook very quickly. Do not allow to boil dry. There should be a small amount of liquid left by the time the leaves are blanched.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the tahini, the sesame oil and the sesame seeds.
  • Serve immediately