Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Quoina
I love Mediterranean food, my heart leaps at the thought of olive oil, seafood, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese, I could write poems on my love of Mediterranean food, if I knew how to write poems that is! I’m a little strange in that I tend to fall in love with food after having travelled to the country of its origin and just one bite of a traditionally inspired dish makes me wish I could teleport there at that very moment! The smell of seafood particularly reminds me of beach front restaurants in Spain, my mind starts to wonder to memories of lazy days sunbathing on a hot sandy beach in calm tranquil bliss. OK back to reality! I plan to go back to Spain, but in the meantime I’ll have to make do with bringing a touch of Spanish cuisine to my cooking.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets known to man. People who enjoy traditional Mediterranean food on a regular basis are less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or become obese. They are also at a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. This is thanks to the consumption of fish which provides omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy fats such as olive oil. Another reason for this is that the majority of the foods in a Mediterranean diet come from plants and there is a large focus on including seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. When ever possible I try to eat local seasonal fruit and vegetables because it actually tastes like real food! It is free from pesticides and the nutritional content is mostly intact.
If ‘queen of quinoa’ was a real title, I would be proud to honour it. I love quinoa, I eat it like its going out of fashion. Id eat it all day if I didn’t have to watch my carbohydrate intake and wasn’t aware of the benefits of a balanced diet, such a shame! It is packed with B vitamins and protein which are needed for good energy levels and immune function. It is a true superfood and If you haven’t noticed so far- I love superfoods! Eating to many grains can be irritating to the lining of the gut, and if you have leaky gut, which is more than likely if you have food allergies, autoimmune disease or many other health issues, then cutting down on grains is a good idea.
Luckily quinoa is a pseudo grain, in fact it is actually a seed and is more closely linked to spinach than rice. It is very high in digestible complete protein even with the saponins it possesses (of which most can be removed after soaking). I eat it interchangeably with oats in the morning when I get tired of other breakfasts and it makes a great substitution for rice in meatballs, salads, soups, stews, and in fabulous recipes like this one.
Quiona has a subtle savoury taste which works very well when paired with the intense basily, galicy, lemony flavours that pesto has to offer, especially if the pesto is homemade. I can’t express in enough words how superior homemade pesto is to store bought. Simply put, there is just no beating the taste of fresh basil and garlic, although shop bought pesto will work if you want to save time.
Homemade pesto is the star of the show here:
I think one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to eat vegetables is to roast them in garlic and herbs. If you roast them they retain a lot of the minerals because there is no ”leaching” in to water which happens when you boil and to a lesser extent steam. Also, roasting is fairly gentle as the food is cooked slowly and one study showed that roasting is also easy on the B vitamins. This is great news because B vitamins are water soluble and are notorious for doing a disappearing act when in the company of their long lost cousin the ‘water molecule’.
The roasted vegetables infused in garlic and basil smelt just like pizza when I took them out of the oven!:
Avocado is an optional extra but it adds a nice soft texture to the meal and when heaped on top boosts the mouth watering appearance of this dish. Also, I just couldn’t do a Mediterranean dish without including olives for no other reason other than I love them!
Without further ramblings, here is the recipie:
- 1 cup of dry Quoina
- 1 cup of plum tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 green peppers
- ½ cup of black olives
- 2 cloves of garlic- crushed or grated
- Drizzle of Olive oil
- 1 avocado
- Fresh basil
- For the pesto:
- 1-2 cloves garlic -crushed
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1.5 cups of basil leaves
- 2 tsps of lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup walnuts
- pepper to taste
- Chop the vegetables and place in an oven dish
- Crush two cloves of garlic and sprinkle over vegetables along with 2 tbls of basil
- Drizzle 2-3 tbls of olive oil over vegetables
- Place in preheated oven
- Cook for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees
- Rinse quinoa and place one cup per 2 cups of water in a pan and bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes until light and fluffy. If needed add a dash of water but not to much as it absorbs alot of water and can be stodgy.
- For the pesto: crush garlic and add all pesto ingredients into a blender or food processor, blend together until smooth. you only need 3-4 tbls for this meal, so save some in the fridge for dressings on salads!
- Drain the Quoina mix in 3-4 tbls of pesto and season with pepper and salt to taste
- Plate the Quoina and then top with roasted vegetables, avocado, black olives and fresh basil
- Serve and enjoy!