Enjoy a taste of the Middle East in this delicious and healthy salad full of different textures and flavours.
Courgettes and peppers are roasted with cumin seeds and sumac then tossed with quinoa, nutty lentils and a refreshing mix of coriander, mint and parsley and dressed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
Makes a fantastic side dish to grilled or barbecued meat, fish, poultry or halloumi, or even good as a light lunch on its own. We enjoyed it with Joojeh kababs (Persian chicken kebabs in a saffron and lemon marinade, my recipe is here) and salad Shirazi with pomegranate seeds.
Serves six to eight as a side dish. 174 calories per serving for an eighth, 232 calories for a sixth. [Calories in square brackets]
To be cooked
- 160g quinoa* [588 calories]
- 100g puy lentils 
- 800ml vegetable stock (I made up with 3 tsp Swiss Vegetable Bouillon) 
- 2 sweet red pointed peppers (240g prepared, or red bell peppers are fine) 
- 2 medium courgettes (360g) 
- 1/2 x 15ml tbsp olive oil (7.5ml) 
- 1/2 tbsp sumac (or use zest of half a lemon) 
- 1 tsp cumin seeds 
To add to the salad
- 4 spring onions (scallions) 
- 50g green olives (about 8 pitted large ones) 
- 2 handfuls fresh flat leaf parsley (about 25g) 
- 1 handful coriander leaves 
- 1 small handful mint leaves 
- 1 tbsp sumac (or use zest of 1 lemon) 
- 50ml lemon juice (or more to taste) 
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more to taste) 
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7 / 220C / 200C Fan Oven. Line a large baking tin with greaseproof baking paper. (N.B. If cooking with a Thermomix, instead of roasting you could choose to steam the vegetables above the quinoa, while boiling the lentils on the hob - weigh in 800g water, put the rinsed quinoa in the internal steaming basket, and the spiced veg in the varoma, and cook for 20 minutes / Varoma temperature / Speed 4).
Cut the courgettes and peppers into similar sized chunks. I like to cut the courgette down the middle lengthways, then cut each half into 'triangles', which gives nice attractive wedge shapes then cut the peppers into similar sized chunks (if you lay the de-seeded pepper halves all on top of each other, it's quicker to cut them all at once).
Toss the courgettes and peppers with the 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp sumac and tsp cumin seeds, and spread out onto the lined tray. Put near the top of the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven) until cooked through and tender.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the lentils and quinoa as per the packet instructions (my puy lentils state 15-20 minutes until al dente, I tend to cook them for around 22 minutes; cook the quinoa in 800ml of hot vegetable stock for 15-20 minutes - I cook for around 18 minutes), then drain, and very briefly rinse under the cold tap for a couple of seconds, and drain thoroughly before transferring to a large bowl.
And while the lentils and quinoa are cooking, finely slice or chop the olives and spring onions (depending on your preference - I like to cut them down the middle before slicing them, as I don't like big chunks of onion), and chop up the fresh herbs. (Thermomix, cut spring onions into one inch lengths, and drop spring onions, olives and herbs onto running blades, speed 7).
Add them to the bowl, together with the roast vegetables, lemon juice, sumac, extra virgin olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of salt (or in other words, basically everything! There's no need to wait for the vegetables to cool, if you're incredibly coordinated). Give it all a good stir/toss together, taste a spoonful, and add extra lemon juice or salt etc. if desired.
Delicious served warm as a side dish, or you could serve as a main topped with halloumi cheese. It's incredibly versatile, and would go well with all kinds of meat, poultry or fish - we enjoyed it with my Persian chicken kebabs (marinated in lemon and saffron) and Shirazi salad with pomegranate.
*In some countries (not the UK, or quinoa from Bolivia or Peru; but e.g. quinoa grown in Australia) quinoa is not pre-rinsed, and will need soaking overnight then rinsing before use, or the saporins will make it taste bitter.