Simply Cooked

Simply Cooked

Merchant Gourmet products are exactly what they say on the packaging…. ‘Simply Cooked’.

The 100% cooked quinoa pouch that I have used in the recipe below contains: white quinoa (81%, water, white quinoa), red quinoa (18%), olive oil. No additives, no preservatives.

This pouch just needs a little squeezing before opening to loosen the quinoa packed tightly inside. You can simply eat it cold mixed into a salad, or heat (as I have done in the recipe below).

There’s a simple recipe to make quinoa porridge on the back of the packet: Stir the quinoa into a pan of unsweetened nut milk (they suggest almond), add berries and pistachios and simmer over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes before serving in a bowl with an optional drizzle of honey (or you could sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top).

Good quality ingredients in any product matter to me. When I buy products that have been processed to any degree, I always check the ingredient details on the back of the pack. 

Manufacturers will always put as much of the eye-catching, health claims on the front of their packaging. This draws us to the product and encourages us to buy it, in the belief that it’s going to be health-supporting. However, it’s what is on the back of the packaging that’s more important. 

Reading the back of packaging is so important to me and I’m going to encourage you to feel as strongly and urge you to check out the back of the packaging for all the products and groceries that you buy. I know this is sometimes difficult when you’re shopping in a rush or with young children. Nowadays it’s often hard because with our mask wearing means that any reading glasses tend to steam up!

Eating a whole food diet with minimal processing is the ideal, however we all need store cupboard ingredients that enable us to create delicious and health-supporting meals when we are pressed for time, tired or stressed.

Products like the Merchant Gourmet 100% quinoa pouch tick all the boxes. 

  • Great ingredients
  • Source of protein
  • Source of fibre
  • Ready to eat

Why is it a good idea to include quinoa in your diet?

  • It’s a complete protein – this means it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need in our diet. These are the amino acids our bodies can’t create.
  • Rich in antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol.
  • Bursting with phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Gluten free (Mateljan, 2015).

So take your quinoa pouch, and before you open it, give it a squeeze to loosen the contents. Then open the pouch and put the required amount of quinoa into a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, some unwaxed lemon zest and a little lemon juice and stir until it begins to smell a little nutty (a few minutes). Remove and set aside.

Gently sauté your bite sized vegetables in the same pan adding a little more oil and a dash of water and a good squeeze of lemon juice. I used broccoli, (small florets), mushrooms (sliced), Brussel sprouts (sliced), sweetheart cabbage (sliced), asparagus (cut into 3 pieces), green beans (cut in half) – when these were cooked al dente (just tender if pierced with a sharp knife, but still with some crunch), I added some edamame beans and then stir well (Sainsbury’s sell fresh ones in a small pack in the vegetable aisles – Biona do tinned ones and you can also buy frozen ones).

Then add a squeeze of lemon and return the quinoa to the vegetable mixture, stirring until warmed through. If you have any spinach leaves add a handful now and stir through for a minute. Serve in a bowl with some chopped soft herbs – I used parsley, but coriander and mint would also taste delicious.

List of ingredients:

Serves 1

  • 1/2 pouch of Merchant Gourmet 100% quinoa
  • 1/2 unwaxed lemon – zest and juice
  • Large handful broccoli florets
  • Large handful brussel sprouts – sliced
  • Handful mushrooms – sliced
  • 4-5 asparagus – trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • Wedge of cabbage – sliced
  • Handful green beans – chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Edamame beans 
  • Handful spinach leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Dash of water
  • Chopped fresh herbs: eg parsley, mint coriander

You can substitute any vegetables for ones you have in your fridge. Take out the ones you don’t like. I’ve gone for mostly green but you could make yours rainbow coloured. It would be delicious with red onion, brightly coloured bell peppers, courgette and carrot.

I used just 1/2 pouch of quinoa to make the dish for my lunch yesterday. I used up the rest of the pouch today by adding, some finely chopped parsley, 1/2 finely diced avocado, some finely chopped fresh tomatoes, finely chopped red onion and a drizzle of olive oil, good squeeze of lemon juice and sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper which I will serve with some grilled salmon and sweet potato mash.

Make an extra portion of this cold quinoa dish and have it the next day. It’s makes a great packed lunch if you are going to be away from home (not many of us at the time of writing). Even if the avocado goes a little brown – it will still taste good the next day.

You can, of course, cook your quinoa from scratch, which is kinder on the budget, but Merchant Gourmet pouches deserve a place in your cupboard for the times when you are stretched for time! Keep an eye on the pouches in your supermarkets and buy a pouch or two when they are on special offer.

To cook quinoa from scratch, simply rinse 100g quinoa in a fine sieve. 

Put a saucepan on a medium heat with a little olive oil and warm, then add the quinoa and cook until you can smell that delicious nutty flavour. 

Then add 225ml of vegetable stock, juice of 1/2 lemon, the lemon zest and a good pinch of salt. Bring this to the boil (you will see bubbles around the edge of the mixture) then cover and simmer for about 15 mins. 

Turn the heat off and leave the pan to stand for about4 minutes. Then remove lid and fluff up the cooked quinoa using a fork. Then carry on with the recipe above.

You can always cook more than you need and, once cooled, store (in a glass container with lid -use an old jam jar) in the fridge for a few days. Use to add to salads, sprinkle over vegetables or add to soups and stews.

If using the quinoa cold in a salad, whisk up a simple dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, with the juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar). Season with sea salt and black pepper. This amount will make 2-3 portions.

Mateljan, G. (2015), The World’s Healthiest Foods, WhFoods, Canada

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