I know when you write a food blog you’re supposed to have this whole story behind what you make, like the mystical journey of a pea that was destined to become bruschetta or something, but honestly, that is rarely the case for me. When I do my grocery shopping, 90% of the time I just buy what’s fresh and cheap with no idea what I’m going to make with any of it. I then get hungry, open the fridge and throw something together.
If I’m inspired by something, it will usually be the memory of a dish I’ve eaten before, or something I see on a restaurant menu that sounds good but that I’m too stingy to pay for. And so, it often happens that I have a recipe all ready to post, but nothing interesting to say about it apart from ‘this is yummy’. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer for an hour thinking about what to say and then give up. Sometimes things aren’t particularly special and are just straight up, honest good food that taste great and that’s the end of the story.
This is one of those dishes and one of those days. Loosely inspired by the Monkey Salad at Israeli street food joint Tahina, this is easy, yummy and filling but light enough for the scorching hot days we’re having at the moment. So yeah. Here it is.
1 cup quinoa, washed well
1 small head broccoli cut into florets (around 3 cups). Use the stalk too, it’s the best part
1/2 head cauliflower cut into florets (around 3 cups)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes
Kernels from two fresh cobs sweetcorn
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Pinch ground cumin
Olive oil as needed
A few pinches za’atar
Scant 1/4 cup tahini (the runny, pouring consistency kind)
Juice of 1 lemon (just less than 1/4 cup/around 45ml)
1/4 cup water
Big handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Large tsp rice malt syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Place the sweet potato onto a tray and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss through a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Place in the oven and bake until nice and soft and a little bit caramelly on the edges, around 30 minutes.
Place the cauliflower onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Don’t be too stingy with the oil. Mix the paprika, chilli and cumin together with a pinch of salt and toss through the cauliflower until well combined. Move to one side of the tray in a single layer. Toss the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and place on the other side of the tray. Roast until the edges are nice and toasty, around 20 minutes.
Set veggies aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa into a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stir and reduce heat to low/ a very gently simmer until the water has been absorbed. Stir, cover with paper towel and a lid and leave for 10 minutes. Remove lid and paper towel and fluff with a fork. It should be perfect.
3. Heat a little oil in a pan and throw in the corn. Cook until they start to brown. Set aside
4. Mix all dressing ingredients together in a bowl. You’re going to want to mix the lemon juice into the tahini first, then gradually add the water mixing well after each addition to avoid lumps. If it’s too thick add more water as needed. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
5. Toss the veggies and quinoa together in a large bowl/platter. You can serve this warm, at room temperature or cold, so whatever tickles your fancy. Drizzle with the dressing or serve it separately at the table. Sprinkle with za’atar and serve.