Thursday, 24 January 2013

Plans going astray and another What Katie Ate recipe: Quinoa & Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Mint & Haloumi

New Years Eve day was a bit of a disaster for me. It started off well, busy but planned out. Cook food for that night in the morning, do my hair, go to Nicole's BBQ and the go into the city to watch the fireworks. But, even the best laid plans can go to shit (excuse my french). Half way through cooking the first dish for the night, quinoa and lentil salad, I cut my hand. It wasn't just a small nick, it was a good deep cut. Needless to say, I jumped straight onto the phone to my mum in tears. My dad then hopped straight into the car with gauze and anything else he could scrounge around the house that might be useful. It was day's like that that I was thankful my dad's a doctor! Well, it turns out I may have been over-reacting a little bit and the cut wasn't too bad, but it still needed a bit of TLC and a decent size bandage to stop the bleeding. So making desert was off the cards for that night, as was actually having the time to go to Nicole's BBQ. As for doing my hair, I couldn't think of a better excuse to go to the hairdresser. But, I did manage to finish the salad for dinner, although there are a few less photo's than usual. Basically, from cutting the fateful mint onwards has no pictures. But it's a simple recipe, so hopefully my mishap won't turn you off making it.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)
1C, or 200g puy-style (french) lentils (if you're feeling lazy, but the tinned ones but the raw ones are much nicer!)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1C, or 100g quinoa (I bought the tri-colour quinoa as it looked pretty)
16 spears asparagus, or really, just as much as you want
180g haloumi, or again, as much as you want
3 limes
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
3 spring onions
1 long, green chilli

Put the 200g lentils in a small saucepan with 3C cold water and bring it to the boil. Simmer it over a low heat for about 25mins, or until the lentils are cooked. You want them al dente, so a little crunchy when you taste them. Drain the lentils and run them under cold water to rinse them. If you're using the tinned lentils, drain and rinse them well.
Put them in a nice big bowl, and when they are completely cool, add the 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs red wine vinegar.

While the lentils are cooking, you can cook your 1C quinoa. Rinse them well, and then put them in a saucepan with 2C cold water. Bring it to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 - 15mins until the water has been absorbed and they go a little transparent. Take the pan off the heat, and fluff up the grain with a fork like you would cous cous. Add the quinoa to the lentils after you've added the olive oil and vinegar, and mix well.

Grab the asparagus and remove the woody ends. Rather than chopping the ends off, if you snap the ends off they snap of at the right point to take off the woody end. If you chop them, you may get some of the woodyness left.
Cut the spears into 2ish cm pieces. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the asparagus in once it's boiled. Leave it in the water for 2 - 3mins, so it doesn't overcook. Drain the water off, and run the asparagus pieces under cold water to stop them cooking any more. This means you'll have asparagus with a bit of crunch left in it, rather than soggy, overcooked asparagus. Once it's cold, add it to the bowl with the quinoa and lentils.

Chop the punnet of cherry tomatoes into quarters.
Zest two of the three limes. Finely slice the three spring onions.
De-seed and finely slice the green chilli.
Roughly chop a good handful of mint. Put all of this in the bowl with the quinoa and lentils.

I've left the haloumi till last, as it's nice to eat haloumi when it's freshly cooked. That being said, I cooked the haloumi about an hour before we ate the salad, and it still tasted delicious. Thinly slice the haloumi and heat up a chargrill pan, or a frypan, and add a splash of oil. Put the haloumi in the pan, and squeeze over the lime juice. After it's started to go golden brown, flip it over and do the same to the other side. Once it's cooked, take it out of the pan and cut it into small squares and add it to the bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix around the bowl full of lovely fresh ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some lime cheeks on the side and enjoy!

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