Following my last makeup post, I've decided to try something a little bit different this week and introduce my first recipe! Cooking is a real passion for me, and has been for years, but I think that when you're first getting into it, it can be really hard to find inspiration, especially when you want meals that are relatively healthy and simple to make.
When it comes to dinner, speaking as a Uni student, my priorities are that it be fast, wholesome and flavourful in equal measure. Let's be honest, after a day of lectures, or with a possible night out ahead, the option of a takeaway is always tempting! But, when you know that you can make something just as delicious yourself, it's (slightly) easier to put the phone down and head into the kitchen. Enter my falafel and Mediterranean salad!
This dish is definitely a bit of an international medley- it combines the nutty grain of quinoa (originally from Africa I believe) with what is essentially a Greek salad, served alongside Middle Eastern falafel. To give the grains some extra flavour, I always fork through a zesty dressing when they are warm before mixing in with the freshly chopped vegetables. You could also crumble over some feta cheese for extra tanginess if you'd like, but if you are lactose-intolerant/vegan it's definitely not a must-have ingredient. Cooking should be a creative activity, so if you don't like a certain ingredient or would prefer to put something else in, do it.
I've taken a few shortcuts to cut down on time, so if you would prefer to make the falafel yourself, or use dry quinoa, more power to you! Also, I have included my recipe for homemade guacamole, purely because I think it tastes delish served alongside this salad, pads it out, and brings another dimension of flavour to the meal. If you're pressed for time, the salad and falafel is more than sufficient by itself.
Enough rambling, here's the recipe!
(Makes Two Servings)
Ingredients:For the dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Falafel (I use one pack of ready made falafels)
Quinoa (One pack- 500g, suitable to cook in the microwave)
For the salad:
1/4 cucumber, chopped into chunks
About 10-15 baby plum tomatoes, quartered
1 bell pepper, chopped into smallish cubes
50g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
For the guacamole:
2 avocados, (make sure they're nice and ripe)
Juice of 1 lime
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1) I always make the guacamole first so that the flavours have time to develop. If you have a pestle and mortar, that's ideal. All you need to do is mash/chop the garlic and chilli until it's a somewhat smooth consistency, then add in the avocados and mix together until you have a smooth and creamy guacamole. If you don't have a pestle and mortar, you can use a fork. Then just add in the lime juice to taste, and drizzle on a tiny bit of olive oil. If you're making this well ahead of time, you can temporarily put the avocado seed in the guacamole (it helps maintain the freshness).
2) For the dressing, finely chop the garlic and mix with the lemon and oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and put to one side.
3) At this point, you can put the falafels in the oven-mine normally take around 10 minutes to bake, but follow whichever packet's instructions you are using.While they're baking, chop the cucumber, tomatoes and pepper.
4) When the falafels are nearly cooked, cook your quinoa in the microwave if this is suitable (again, follow packet instructions.) When the quinoa is ready, tip the grains into a bowl and immediately mix (using a fork to keep the grains separate) with the dressing, followed by the vegetables. This would also be the time to crumble in your feta.
5) Take the falafels out of the oven, and serve alongside the quinoa salad and guacamole. Feel free to spritz over extra lemon/lime if you like a really citrusy flavour.