Quinoa, Watercress, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Roasted Asparagus
Quinoa has been one of our staples for many years now, but we rarely have it in salad form. With the weather warming up (well we have had the odd day), thoughts turn to summer salads. What could be nicer than sitting outside on a summer’s day and eating a delicious salad for lunch or supper?
I’m sure I’m not the only one that wants to Get Summer Started, so I teamed up with Sainsbury’s to create a light yet filling salad which would be suitable for all types of summer eating. As well as making an excellent lunch or supper, this salad lends itself equally well as a starter to an elegant dinner party, a picnic or a packed lunch. Working from home, I don’t always manage to take a proper lunch break, but sometimes when the weather is nice, I make an effort to get out of the house and take my lunch to Westbourne Gardens, a little known walled garden in Liskeard. There I can switch off from work for a while and savour the peaceful atmosphere and enjoy my lunch.
We are very lucky here in Liskeard to live in the vicinity of three excellent cheese makers. One of these is the award winning Cornish Blue, which is, incidentally, one of my all time favourites. This and quinoa were my starting points. A blue cheese needs something robust to stand up to it, so walnuts and watercress were next on my list. Asparagus was an after thought and isn’t integral to the salad, but it does give seasonal interest as well as a bit of additional style. Asparagus is in full season now and I was somewhat excited to buy my first bunch of Cornish asparagus the other day.
I made the salad one sunny day and after taking the photographs, I dutifully tripped down to Westbourne Gardens where I sat in the dappled sunshine with a satisfied sigh and savoured my quinoa, watercress, walnut and Cornish Blue salad with roasted asparagus. What a treat. The mix of textures and flavours made it both flavoursome and interesting; crunchy toasted walnuts, robust cheese and peppery watercress combined well with the fluffy quinoa. The walnut and lemon dressing was light but flavoursome and had been thoroughly absorbed by the quinoa. I made enough for us to have it for supper that evening. CT tucked in with gusto and in between mouthfuls expressed his delight at not having his meal interrupted by an impromptu photo shoot.
- 125 g quinoa
- 6-8 asparagus spears
- sea salt flakes (I used Cornish sea salt)
- a drizzle of lemon oil (or rapeseed oil)
- 1 shallot - finely chopped
- 1 organic lemon
- 3 tbsp walnut oil
- 75 g organic watercress - finely chopped
- 40 g walnuts - toasted and roughly chopped
- 75 g blue cheese (I used Cornish Blue) - roughly chopped
- Snap the bottoms of the asparagus spears and simmer them in some water seasoned with a pinch of sea salt for about ten minutes or so to create an asparagus stock.
- Cover the quinoa with water and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain and return to the pan with about twice the amount of asparagus stock to quinoa. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat leaving the pan lid on to continue the cooking process.
- Finely grate the zest from the lemon and add it to a small bowl with the shallot. Squeeze on the lemon juice and add a pinch of sea salt. Leave to marinade.
- Drizzle the asparagus with a little lemon oil, sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt flakes and roast at 200C for ten minutes or until just tender.
- Put the cooked quinoa in a large bowl and using a fork to keep it fluffy, mix in the shallot and lemon juice along with the walnut oil.
- Make sure the quinoa is no longer hot, then gently mix in the watercress followed by the walnuts and blue cheese.
- Divide the mixture up into bowls or lunch boxes and top with a couple of roasted asparagus spears.
Makes enough for 4 people for a light lunch, or 2-3 people for dinner.
The asparagus is optional and if not wanted, water can be used instead of asparagus stock.
Other Quinoa Salad recipes you might like:
- Lime, mint and olive quinoa salad – Recipes from a Pantry
- Warm rice and quinoa salad – Fab Food 4 All
- Quinoa with roasted butternut – A Glug of Oil
Disclosure: I was sent a Sainsbury’s shopping voucher in order to buy the ingredients for developing this recipe.