Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket (gluten free, vegan)

Do you ever hold onto things that you know you need to let go of to live a healthy, authentic, and truly nourished life? Something that you know isn’t helping you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself that you just can’t seem to lay to rest?

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few weeks ago I made a decision to let go of something I had been holding onto for a long time; something that I was trying to shape my life to fit around; something that was making me feel unhealthy, tired, and worthless. In a moment of abrasive clarity I realised that I needed to let go of this goal that I had been trying for so long to achieve, because it wasn’t really a goal at all: it was a wall to hide behind rather than confronting the work needed to bring my real dreams to life. And so, I let go. I bundled up the unkind thoughts that had been running through my mind, the stress that was making me unable to sleep, and the anxiety that was affecting my relationships with the people I love, and I just let it all go. Almost instantly I felt better, lighter, happier. Over the past couple of weeks I feel a change within me, and a change in the way I am approaching the dreams that I wanted to work towards all along.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My decision was to graduate early from my post-graduate study. I am stopping here for a while, taking my graduate diploma, and choosing to leave my Master’s dissertation in order to pursue the goal that I have harboured in my heart for so long. I am giving myself over to the pursuit of my dream of writing and submitting a manuscript for a cookbook. This is the dream that I had in my heart when I started on the road of further study, and I have learned so much during the course of my study. It fed me and sustained me while I was going through some other changes in my life, and now I have reached the end of my journey with this degree and I am ready to take the leap into putting into practice what I have learned. I will work for this dream, and I know it will be a long road with rejections and frustrations along the way. When those frustrations arise in the way of a goal you are passionate about then you can find the energy to work through them and they make you stronger in your pursuit. Here is to letting go, finding the strength to set myself free and set myself on the way of my true dream. Sometimes you just need to be brave enough, and kind enough to yourself to let it go.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This salad is something that I made to fill my lunchbox this week. I am lucky that any of it survived taste testing though because I couldn’t help but keep diving in for ‘just another taste’. The quinoa and rocket are the backbone of this simple, but exciting, lunchtime meal. Quinoa is a gluten free seed (not a grain!) and contains plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you powered through the afternoon. The salty black olives are balanced out by the sweet roasted onion and zucchini, and walnuts provide the all important ‘crunchy’ factor as well as some important omega 3 fats. This salad makes enough for two decent lunches, but can easily be multiplied if you want to make it for a larger gathering. I can imagine this being passed down the dinner table at a summer barbecue later this year, or accompanying some roasted chicken at a winter family dinner. And it is naturally gluten free and vegan, so even guests like me will have a satisfying and delicious option on the table.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad

Serves 2 but easily multiplied | Gluten Free | Vegan


  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (salt reduced)
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives
  • 3 large handfuls rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. Tip quinoa into a small saucepan along with vegetable stock. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, put lid on the saucepan, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest quinoa for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer quinoa to a big bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, chop zucchini into ~1cm (1/2 inch) thick slices and place on lined baking sheet. Halve and peel onion and chop each half into 6 pieces. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil across. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until onion is softened.
  4. In the last 5 minutes of the vegetables baking, roughly chop walnuts into large pieces and sprinkle across sheet to roast. Remove everything from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Make the dressing by combing all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking thoroughly.
  6. To assemble the salad: halve the olives and add to the cooled quinoa along with the vegetables and walnuts and rocket leaves. Drizzle dressing over the salad and using freshly washed hands or salad servers toss the salad thoroughly until everything is mixed through.
  7. Serve, or store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

17 thoughts on “Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket (gluten free, vegan)

  1. Hi Amy, congratulations on deciding to and then pursuing your dream. Your writing is beautiful and you have such a way with words, I know you will be great!

  2. holy FLIP!!! i’ve over the MOON stoked to read this!! after the first few paragraphs, comment forming in my mind, “totally agree, we all cling to crap we need to get rid of” and i was interested in finding out a little more about what u were talking about and then i got to the cookbook and BAM!!! i am throwing u a party over here in Cali…wahoooo!!! So excited for you, your book will be freaking amazing…but even more-so i know it’s something that is so important to you, and what your heart truly wants! i reserve a first copy! xoxo

    • A signed copy will be in the mail for you whenever this thing manifests 🙂 Thanks for all your support over the years Miss Cait 🙂

  3. Wow, you are so brave and you are right in pursuing your dream. So many people never really follow their dreams and wishes. Even better if you do it while you’re young and are not under a lot of pressure. You can try out whatever you want. My boyfrien quit his job two years back to be a self employed internet entepreneur and he never regreted his decision. Neither have I, as he is much happier now. He does what he wants to do. The first step is the hardest and it sounds like you already mastered that one. 🙂 Good luck to you and I would buy your book! 🙂
    I love the recipe. You can always get me with quinoa. I made one salad last night with my friends with spinach, feta and bacon and it was absolutely delish!

    • Thanks for sharing your story Tina and for all your encouragement. It took me a while to concretely find out what my dream was, but now I know I am going to pursue it with all my might 🙂
      Spinach and feta with quinoa is definitely my jam too 🙂

  4. Go for it Amy. What a great goal. I could never write a cookbook. I know you’ll be great. Oh, and your veggie and quinoa bowl look and sound delicious. I love all the flavours and colours.

    • Thank you Jen! But I have to disagree, I think you would write an awesome cookbook! I love all the recipes you feature on your site 🙂 Mum enjoyed a riff on your pulled beef burgers for her birthday party dinner!

  5. Pingback: Peanut Butter and Millet Muffins (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

  6. I’m late to the party with this post but I just want to add my complete support and admiration of you for letting go of what was holding you back from freedom, happiness and wholeness. You’re a natural writer, you write from the heart and not just your head… it’s discernable in every post. I think you will be a WONDERFUL cookbook writer… I can imagine getting nourishment for the mind, soul and spirit through each page 🙂 Go for it. I am so happy for you. You’ve inspired me to try and work further towards doing the same thing for myself… heading from anxiety and ‘sameness’ towards living freely and lightly (very difficult to achieve but totally worth it). You are beautiful inside and out Amy, thanks for sharing these momentous words with us! Oh… and that salad (completely and utterly yum… yay for crunchy, salty, sweet and caramelised goodness at lunchtime!) xx

  7. Pingback: Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Twenty-Four | Thoroughly Nourished Life

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