150 g (3/4 cup) quinoa, red or white
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 – 3 tender celery stalks (150 g / 5 1/3 oz)
30 g (1 oz) walnut halves (about 10)
50 g baby spinach leaves
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put 300 ml (1¼ cup) lightly salted water on to boil for the quinoa in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably non-stick. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and drain well. When the water boils add the quinoa and when it returns to a boil, turn down heat to low, cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. (Red quinoa has a slightly longer cooking time than the white variety.) Turn off the heat and let rest covered for a further 10 – 15 minutes to make it fluff up. (It is very useful using a pan with a glass lid so you can see when the water has been absorbed without having to lift the lid.) Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, separate the grains with a fork and allow it to cool. In the meantime chop the apple. Place it in a medium-size mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice to stop it from discolouring. Clean the celery stalks, discarding the tough pale base, then slice the rest finely and add it to the apple. Chop the walnuts roughly and add half to the bowl, setting aside the rest for decoration. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the ingredients in a small bowl. When the quinoa has cooled completely, mix it with the apples and celery, add the dressing and toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the spinach leaves between two plates, pile the quinoa salad on top, sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and decorate with a few tender celery leaves, the pale ones from the small innermost stalks in the bunch which are less bitter. Serve immediately.
Quinoa is a super-healthy grain that is completely gluten free. There are around 120 varieties of quinoa in all colours, but the ones commonly found in shops are white, red and black. White quinoa has the lightest texture and the most delicate taste, while red and black have a slightly earthier taste and are often used in salads as they hold the shape better after being cooked. Quinoa is covered with a natural bitter residue (which protects it from insects and diseases) and should therefore be rinsed before cooking.