Recipe: Salmon with quinoa and walnut salad

I love salmon fillets. They are just so easy. Even for someone who isn’t very good at cooking fish and meat – it’s not the thing I’m best at, I’ll admit – you just pan fry them over a high heat and they’re on the table in 10 minutes. I love to serve simple and quick things with salmon. And, happily, my kids really seem to like quinoa right now! I know, I’m cringing at how middle class that is…

I’m going to be really honest with you: I served my two angels the quinoa and walnut salad (this idea I saw Lorraine Pascal do in a weekend magazine recently – this isn’t her recipe, I just remembered a few components), and they really bugged me by picking the ‘bits’ out. My son helpfully suggested that I could improve the recipe by just leaving everything out next time, bar the quinoa. I happened to have some plain quinoa that I put to one side, so I relented and re-served them the quinoa, plain.

Quinoa isn’t actually a grain, as people seem to think. It’s a proper, bona fide superfood. Here’s what the BBC Good Food website say about it: 

“Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the essential amino acids. It has been recognised by the United Nations as a supercrop for its health benefits: packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest.”

I didn’t like it for a while, as I think cooking it takes a bit of getting right. Do you know what turned it around for me? Cooking it in stock instead of water. I don’t know, it just works!

If your kids are like mine, they will probably like it plain too, maybe just add a knob of butter. It’s easy enough to cook up a large batch and then to add stuff to the grown ups’, leaving the kids’ portions plain. Also, it’s great the next day cold for salads – I’m roasting some squash to have with the cold stuff for lunch as I type.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 
4 x salmon fillets, skin on (take them out the fridge 10 mins before you cook)
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the quinoa and walnut salad:
240g quinoa, cooked with 720ml stock (you will probably have leftovers)
50g walnuts, toasted then roughly chopped
Handful of raisins
Handful of parsley, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Yoghurt dressing: 
Natural yoghurt
A little grated garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Cook the quinoa by making hot stock, and adding it to the quinoa, then simmering till it’s all been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Once it’s done, set aside to cool. 
  2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and heat till smoking hot. Add the salmon, skin side down. Leave skin side down for about 5-7 minutes, until you can see that it is getting really crispy. Only turn over once this has happened. Cook for a few minutes more until cooked through – or a little pink if you like it like that. 
  3. Toast the walnuts in a frying pan. Roughly chop. Add the chopped parsley, walnuts, and raisins to the cooked quinoa. Drizzle on oil, lemon juice, and add cumin, salt and pepper. Toss well and adjust seasoning to taste. 
  4. Quickly grate some garlic into yoghurt, then season and drizzle oil in too. 
  5. Serve the quinoa on a plate, top with salmon and drizzle with yoghurt sauce. 
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