Quinoa Salad: Son of Citrus Couscous

October 30, 2009

quinoaQuinoa salad with bits and pieces …

Those of you who’ve enjoyed the citrus couscous recipe I posted a while ago might be keen to try a new salad that I am totally loving at the moment. It’s a very slight bastardisation of a fabulous quinoa salad from Ottolenghi, the Israeli & Palestinian chef duo from London whose book and newspaper column combined are the most interesting source of vegetarian food I’ve ever found.

The original recipe, for Quinoa and Camargue red rice is here, and our adapted version below. My friend Caro first made this for me, using those craisins (dried cranberries) that are easily available in the supermarket, and I liked the slight sourness and the lovely ruby red colour so much I have done it with both craisins and the barberries I got ages ago on the Empress’s and my Persian excursion.

Unlike craisins, however, I’ve found quinoa itself rather difficult to get hold of. I’m told it often resides in health food / organic shops, and I found mine at the Norton St Grocer, but I hope it becomes more freely available because it is my new favourite grain in the world.

It’s pronounced ‘kin-wah’  and as far as I can tell you use it like couscous, but it’s much easier to manage as it doesn’t stick together as couscous can, and it has a delightfully bouncy texture and nutty flavour.

I’ve learned that quinoa is an ancient ‘grain’ (but not really, as it’s not a grass but is more closely related to spinach – we eat the seeds) originating in the Andes, and best of all, it’s gluten-free so people with Coeliac disease and so on can enjoy with impunity. Excellent!

Anyhoo. Enough lessons. On with the deliciousness.

  • 200g quinoa
  • 50g wild rice
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for frying
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • handful of barberries / dried cranberries / currants or a mixture of any dried fruit you like
  • 30g pistachio nuts, lightly toasted
  • handful rocket / baby spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper


  1. Bring to the boil two saucepans filled with salted water, and simmer the quinoa and rice separately: the first for 13 minutes, the second for up to 40, depending on how nutty and firm you like the texture.
  2. Drain both and spread out flat to cool more quickly.
  3. While the grains are cooking, fry the onion in a little olive oil until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  4. Soak the dried fruit in orange juice and zest in a bowl with all other ingredients except nuts and spinach/rocket.
  5. In an oven preheated to 170 degrees C, dry-roast the pistachios for up to six minutes or just until the colour changes. Check halfway through, because they can burn in an instant and the flavour is vile if they are even slightly overdone and you’ll have to chuck them out.
  6. Mix the cooked grains with all other ingredients and season generously, adding a little swizzle of oil if it’s too dry. Serve at room temperature.



  1. Would not want to question your skills, but do you mean cook the rice for 13, and the quinoa for 40???

  2. Nope, though I agree it might sound odd. Wild rice takes an age to cook – it’s that dark brown needle-y looking rice. But I would be checking it at intervals after 20 mins, I guess.

    And quinoa I think takes MAX 13 minutes, so in fact I would be checking it at about 10.

    All questioning of my skills is welcome here. Sort of.

  3. I try never to cook things I can’t pronounce.

    Speaking of cous cous someone recently made me Israeli cous cous- it is quite different(no jokes please) sort of pearly and as far from grit as can be imagined, bit more like barley and v nice. Interestingly enough packets ( in supermarkets and grocers) are labelle’Israeli Cous Cous’

    • hmm jules, I must investigate this Israeli stuff – it sounds so much like quinoa I am wondering if they are possibly the same thing?? Will check.

  4. Simon Johnston sells barley cous-cous ($5.50 for 500gms I think) – I wonder if that’s the same as Israeli cous-cous? It’s much less sticky, and yes, quite like quinoa. I’ve made the famous cous-cous salad with it, and it worked beautifully. It seemed to absorb a bit more of the orange juice, too.

    And, on the subject of trying to FIND quinoa, our local Woolworths has gone all posh and stocks it – thumbs up. Going to try the recipe now.

    • Hi Virginia, our Woolies has come over all posh too, with a little ‘organics’ section with heaps of different kinds of grains, including quinoa and barley cous-cous and all kinds of things. All very confusing! must do a post some time on what’s what in the grain area … hope your quinoa works out well. And I am going to give your sake-wasabe-salmon a shot very soon and report back!

  5. […] Quinoa salad or citrus couscous (make a huge batch – both of these keep forever) […]

  6. […] may remember that my favourite quinoa salad, a bastardisation of a quinoa dish by the wonderful Yotam Ottolenghi, includes wild rice.  And […]

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