Quinoa and grilled sourdough salad

So, after having confessed to my limited gardening success as far as growing tomatoes is concerned, I came back from vacation to … an ample tomato harvest. Though most of the varieties have suffered just as I expected, the partially blight-resistant “Losetto” did not. After finding out there was nobody around to keep them in check, the three plants went berserk, growing out of there alloted bed, entwining with each other and any other plants nearby, and producing hundreds of small sweet brightly red fruits.

I bought the seeds of “Losetto” from Thompson&Morgan, because it was heralded as “an outstanding new cascading bush tomato with built-in blight resistance”. And because growing tomatoes in our humid climate is an ongoing battle against blight, I almost exclusively plant resistant varieties. Only they often turn out to be not really that resistant. But this one did live up to the marketing promises and therefore I decided to forgive T&M for the outrageous price of £3.69 for just 6 (!) tiny seeds, especially since all 6 germinated.

Anytime I have access to vine-ripened tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes (and that is not nearly often enough), I have a hard time deciding which tomato-centred recipe from my “to cook” list to make. Like the cherry tomato clafoutis, this recipe has been on the list for a long time, ever since I bought Yotam Ottolenghi’s second book Plenty. When I finally made it, it was a big success and went on repeat immediately. We have already eaten it 3 times in 2 weeks!

The recipe is a cross between traditional Arab fattoush and Italian panzanella, both recipes designed to turn stale bread into something delicious. But the modern twist (that we’ve come to expect from Ottolenghi) is the addition of quinoa, the light and healthiful grain. We were lucky to still have some dense Czech sourdough, which is my daughter’s favourite bread in the world. In fact, she wants us to get a freezer, just so that she can bring a supply every time we go visit my parents.

Quinoa previously: Quinoa salad with pickled radishes

Quinoa and grilled sourdough salad
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi: Plenty
To turn the salad into more of a meal, I doubled the amount of quinoa. I also prefer frying the bread in a frying pan to toasting it in the oven, because it allows me to control the browning and crisping of the bread better. I have substituted spring onion for red onion, because I have plenty and prefer its milder taste in salads. Further: the recipe calls for very specific amounts of individual herbs, which is handy if you buy them, but if you grow your own (and I hope you do!), you’ll probably just go to the garden and pick a bunch. Because we don’t like coriander, I do not include it, but you mix as you please.

Serves 4
100 g quinoa
4 slices of sourdough bread (300g in total), cut in largish cubes
2 tbsp of olive oil
500 g cherry tomatoes, halved (different colours, if you can get them)
1 cucumber, cubed
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
5 to 6 tbsp mixed chopped herbs (mint, parsley, dill, chives, coriander)
For the dressing:
1 tbsp lemon juice
70 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper

Put the quinoa in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10-12 minutes. Strain into a fine sieve, refresh under cold water and leave to drain for a few minutes.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add bread cubes and fry until crisp and golden, stirring often.

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients with the quinoa and bread cubes. Add dressing and toss together gently. Check for seasoning. Let the salad sit a little so that the bread croutons can soften up slightly.

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