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Monday, 3 December 2012

Warm Quinoa, Sorana Bean and Roasted Vegetable Salad

I am a big fan of warm salads; I like how, thanks to the heat, the ingredients beautifully soak up the dressing and really get to interact with each other. The beans I used in this salad are of the Sorana variety: you may have not heard of them, but they are some kind of celebrity in the pulse world :-) Their skin is wafer-thin and their flesh really buttery; they are only cultivated on the dry river bed of the Pescia stream in Tuscany, and as a result quite expensive and tricky to get hold of. If you are not as lucky as to have an aunt that lives near the Pescia stream and gives you these fine beans as a gift when she comes to visit, then feel free to substitute the latter with more widely available cannellini.

INGREDIENTS (for two people as a main course, four as a starter)
  • 100 gr of quinoa
  • 350 gr of cooked Sorana beans (or the equivalent amount of cannellini beans), drained of the cooking water
  • Half a medium celeriac root, peeled 
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 onion
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • A teaspoon of powdered vegetable stock (or half a vegetable stock cube)
  • The juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Start by roasting your vegetables (the aubergine, courgette, celeriac and tomatoes). Chop them all in small chunks of approximately the same size and spread them out on a large roasting tray. Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, tuck in the rosemary sprig and roast them in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 30 minutes, or until caramelised.

In the meantime, finely chop the onion, put it in a shallow frying pan and gently fry it in a little olive oil until soft. Add in the quinoa and always stirring, toast it for a couple of minutes. Cover it with boiling water, stir in the vegetable stock powder and a pinch of salt, then cover it with a lid and let it cook until fluffy and soft (approx. 20 minutes).

Add the beans to the pan and, with the hob on the lowest setting, gently warm them trough. While this is happening, whisk one part of lemon juice with three parts of extra-virgin olive oil, the dried thyme leaves, some salt and pepper - this will be your dressing. When the beans are warm and the roasted vegetables are also ready, arrange all the ingredients on a plate, drizzle the dressing on top, decorate it with basil leaves (which can then be shredded and eaten in the salad if desired) and serve immediately.

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