Thursday, 24 November 2016

Keen on quinoa

Harvest is well underway around our glorious State and with that in mind, I welcome you to the first recipe in my series designed to celebrate local WA products and producers.
This month, I’ve decided to focus on a product that I’ve had my eye on for a while and now that I’ve mastered how to pronounce it, it’s the perfect time to share.
Three Farmers Quinoa is exactly as the name suggests, a brand of quinoa grown and packaged by three innovative WA farmers – Ashley Wiese, Megan Gooding and Garren Knell.  
The Three Farmers have spent years refining the growing process of quinoa, injecting a burst of red into a landscape traditionally dominated by paddocks of golden hues.
They’ve trailed different varieties to find the one best suited to local conditions and to ensure what they were harvesting was a premium product before releasing it to the wider market.
So what exactly is quinoa?
Well, firstly you say keen-wa – which is really important to know if you’re going to boast about incorporating the gluten-free superfood into your diet to your hipster mates, or order it in one of those ultra-cool, bearded barista-type cafes with milk crates as chairs.
On top of being a trendy superfood, quinoa is actually a seed rather than a grain and is packed with nutritional benefits (including being high in protein, low GI, plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory).
Being low GI also means it’s good for filling tummies, which is a very handy attribute to have when you’re trying to feed three little lads who always seem to be hungry. Always.
It’s also a versatile little number in the kitchen and can weave its way into dishes both sweet and savoury, from breakfast right through dinner.
I’ve tried it in various dishes and there are a range of recipes on the Three Farmers Quinoa website, but my favourite for this time of year has to be a roasted vegetable salad.
Change it up according to whatever you have on hand, but the roasted garlic works well and not to boast, but I actually harvested the garlic from my own garden (we’re an emerging River Cottage over here).
If you want to share a favourite locally grown or made product with me, so I can give it a whirl in the Everyday Baker kitchen, please do!

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
1.5 cups quinoa
1 bulb of garlic
Variety of vegetables for roasting (I used mushrooms, red onion, cherry tomatoes and capsicum)
150g soft fetta (Persian is great)
Half a broccoli
¼ cup pepitas
Fresh parsley and thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook your quinoa according to the instructions on the packet, allow to cool slightly and add to your salad bowl.
Pre-heat oven to 200C.
Roughly chop your vegetables and place on a tray lined with baking paper (except the broccoli), drizzle with olive oil.
For the garlic, don’t bother pealing but chop the top off to reveal the cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Place on the tray and bake for about 30 minutes.
Chop and steam your broccoli. Add to the salad bowl with the roasted vegetables and gently mix through.
Squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their skin and straight into the salad, along with the chopped parsley, thyme and pepitas, tossing gently to combine.
Crumble the fetta over the salad.
For the dressing, combine your ingredients and whisk to combine before drizzling over the salad.   
Add any meat if you desire, I added some sliced, roasted chicken thighs which were sprinkled with some herbs and served as a main meal.