This is one of my favorite ways to create quick meals that also taste great: By combining the five tastes that are naturally present on our taste buds: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. I go into more detail on this in my online program Healthy in a Hurry but I wanted to share this Quinoa Salad because it is so simple and tasty at the same time!
Taking pleasure in what we eat is not a luxury – it is a necessity in order to feel satisfied by a meal. If a meal is bland, we will often eat more of it or need something sweet after a meal. I call this biological need for pleasure allowing our taste buds to have a party. And what better way for them to party than by combining a food from all five tastes in one dish?
This is what I have done in this dish, combining something sweet (chestnuts + raisins), salty (salt + capers), sour (apple cider vinegar), umami (olive oil, onion, dried tomatoes) and bitter (endives + ground cumin). You can always substitute any of these food with something else from the same taste profile. For example, if you don’t like chestnuts, you can leave them out and add more raisins. If you don’t like endives, you can use kale or arugula instead which are also bitter. And you can always adjust the proportions and seasonings to suit your taste, adding more or less sour for example, as taste is always individual.
This quantity makes about 6 servings, and you can leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you are adding a leafy green, add it when serving rather than storing it with the other ingredients as it will wilt.
1 cup uncooked quinoa or millet or buckwheat
200g chestnuts (I buy them frozen)
8 dried tomatoes (buy them without oil)
6 teaspoons capers
1 red onion
4 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
Cook the quinoa, ideally soaking it for about 12 hours beforehand. – find out how to cook quinoa here.
Chop the leeks all the ingredients and combine in a bowl – find out how to clean and chop leeks here.
Steam or boil the leeks and chestnuts for a few minutes so they are cooked but not mushy.
Chop the rest of the ingredients so that everything is about the same size. This will prevent any one taste from dominating and will allow all the tastes to harmoniously come together.
Prepare the dressing and mix with all the ingredients in a bowl.
Adjust taste and seasoning until you find the perfect combination for you.