Last night I steamed some of the escarole in an attempt to retain it’s colour and make an effort to retain some nutrients. I didn’t like it at all, bitter, bitter, bitter. I don’t know what I expected, it is from the bitter leaf family. Maybe it was the kimchi I put with it, but I don’t think so. Now roasted, it’s a whole different story. It becomes sweeter, like most roasted things, bringing out it’s sugars. I really wasn’t sure it would work but it did.
Quinoa was another little challenge. I have struggled to like this old seed but I think I’m finally there. If you’ve got some sitting in your cupboard or have given up trying to cook it, here are some tips.
Firstly you must to rinse it. This removes the saponins from it’s outer layer. This is their bitter defence mechanism, which (according to Harold McGee) will actually penetrate within the seed if you soak them for too long. The second tip is not to overcook it. It seems like there are a matter of moments between perfectly cooked quinoa and overcooked, irretrievable mush, so be attentive.
Roast Escarole, Beetroot and Walnut Quinoa
1/2 cup quinoa
1 large beetroot
1/4 large head of escarole, roughly chopped and washed
1 medium carrot, sliced
a few radish, thickly sliced
1-2 spring onions finely sliced
handful of walnuts
lemon infused olive oil ( I use Colonna Granverde brand)
Set the oven to 180°C. Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast for about an hour or until cooked. While still warm remove skin and cut into bite size pieces.
Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve. I don’t have one so have to use a muslin lined sieve, which requires you to scrap some bits stuck onto the cloth when you transfer it to the saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Drain and use a fork it to fluff up.
Meanwhile roast the carrot, and radish with a little olive oil for about 35 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Cook the escarole in a baking tray with a little olive oil and salt, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Bake walnuts for 8-10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the carrot, beetroot, radish, spring onion, escarole and quinoa. Add pepper and a swirl of lemon infused olive oil. Divided onto two serving dished and top with roasted chopped walnuts and crumbled feta.