Quinoa needs a little help in the flavour department, but it doesn't take a lot of imagination to transform this ancient grain into something more special altogether. Being Persian, I have a thing for pistachios - toast them in a pan, almost burning them, and they take on a smoky depth that makes a great addition to this dish. Preserved lemons are naturally salty and provide much-needed seasoning for quinoa, too.
Sabrina Ghayour's Quinoa salad with toasted pistachios, preserved lemons & courgettes
Serves: 4-6 as a side dish
100g shelled pistachio nuts
2 large courgettes, cut into 1cm thick slices
1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
6-8 preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped tsp nigella seeds
1 Put the quinoa in a saucepan, cover with water and briing to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then strain and rinse in cold running water until the grains are cold. Allow the excess moisture to drain, then put the quinoa into a large mixing bowl.
2 In a large frying pan set over a medium heat, toast the pistachio nuts without any oil for just 3-4 minutes, gently tossing them to ensure they do not blacken too much or burn, then set aside.
3 Drizzle just the tiniest amount of oil into the same frying pan and fry the courgettes for 3 minutes on each side until they get a good colour on them but are not cooked all the way through. Transfer the slices to a chopping board and chop each slice in half.
4 Add the courgette to the quinoa along with the chopped mint, preserved lemons, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix well. Lastly, add the toasted pistachios and the nigella seeds and give the ingredients one final mix. Serve immediately.
Recipe taken from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, published by Mitchell Beazley, 2014