Some days, some weeks, I feel like we should all be given awards for being grown-ups. Gold stickers for remembering to put your pants on in the morning. Smiley face stamps for making it home with all everything on the grocery list. A trophy if you make it to Thursday without raiding the secret chocolate chip stash that isn’t for making cookies, but for just those moments when the dark organic “grown-up” chocolate just won’t fill the sugar monster hole inside you. You should certainly receive a gold medal if you pack your lunch and don’t go down the deep-fried temptation rabbit hole.
This salad is the trick up your sleeve for winning that healthy but delicious eating gold medal. Gluten free, and vegan, and packed with good-for-your-body ingredients this salad will have you sprinting over the healthy eating finish line all week long. We’ve got quinoa, chickpeas, vibrant veggies and plenty of greens too.
But, just because this salad falls within the “healthy green” category doesn’t mean it isn’t also packed with some big flavours that take care of nourishing your taste buds too: coriander, spinach, cashews, and a touch of chilli pack a punch in what may be my new favourite pesto recipe. I had to stop myself from just eating the pesto and abandoning my packed lunch project. Seriously, this pesto will be a permanent feature in our fridge throughout spring. Just add rice noodles for an easy dinner.
I’m so glad I didn’t abandon this salad in a pesto-eating-craze though because I will be eating this salad all week long for work. I coupled the flavour-dense pesto with chickpeas, quinoa, soft butter lettuce leaves, cucumber, and bright red capsicum. The pesto to salad ratio is high, which results in each mouthful being packed with vibrant coriander and buttery cashew flavour. You will want to lick the bowl. I did.
Serves 3-4 | Vegan | Gluten Free | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 (400g) can chickpeas
- 1/2 large red capsicum (bell pepper)
- 1 small cucumber
- 1/2 head butter lettuce
For the pesto
- 1/2 cup roasted cashews
- 1 cup (packed) coriander leaves
- 1 cup (packed) spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- Sprinkle chilli flakes (depending on your taste for spice)
- Spread cashews on a baking tray and bake at 180C (350F) for 10 minutes. Cool completely before making pesto.
- Place quinoa in fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. Place in a medium saucepan with vegetable stock and warm over a medium-high heat. Bring quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, place a lid on the saucepan and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes then place quinoa into a large bowl to cool.
- While quinoa is cooking make pesto. Place all ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Rinse chickpeas and add to quinoa. Dice capsicum and cucumber into large chunks and add to bowl. Gently tear butter lettuce into large pieces and add to bowl.
- Add pesto to bowl and toss salad thoroughly until pesto is well incorporated.