This recipe is inspired by Taste Cornucopia in Hastings, an organic cafe which never ceases to wow me with their food. They always have an incredible array of salads, packed with stuff that’s only good for you – and my favourite is their quinoa salad. I’ve had this salad for lunch at least once a fortnight for the last three and a half years and I think I’ve finally figured out how to make it almost as good as theirs! This is a fantastic winter salad.


If you haven’t tried quinoa (pronounced ‘Keen-wah’) you are missing out! It’s widely regarded as a superfood because of it’s high nutritional content and status as a complete protein: It contains all nine essential amino acid (I’m not really sure what means, but I’m sure you’ll agree it sounds impressive). Quinoa is a bit like couscous in that it has a light and fluffy texture and is cooked via the absorption method and makes a great base for salads. That’s about where the comparison to couscous ends – quinoa has a wonderful nutty flavour and, in my opinion, it blows couscous out of the water.

Serves 4

1/4 medium sized pumpkin – skin removed, diced into 2cm pieces
1 Tlb Olive oil
1/2 tsp Chilli flakes (optional)
1c Quinoa (I like the tri colour quinoa, which takes a little longer to cook – feel free to use the standard white variety)
2c stock (I used Maggi’s dried chicken stock, if you want this to be a vegetarian dish, just use water or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 c cooked (then cooled) brown rice (I used this stuff – it’s brilliant and FAST)
2 tlb apple puree
1 tlb toasted cumin seeds
2 tlb each: Toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds (see tip)
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

  • Preheat oven 180 degrees (standard bake).
  • Prepare the pumpkin: Line a roasting dish with baking paper (great way to roast veges if you would like to use less oil) . Spread the diced pumpkin out on the roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with chilli flakes (if using) and season with fresh black pepper and sea salt. Roast pumpkin for approximately 45 minutes, turning pumpkin over half way through so it doesn’t burn.
  • Onto the quinoa: Place the quinoa in a medium sized saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, simmering gently for approximately 30 minutes. At the end of this time frame the stock should be fully absorbed, tripled in quantity and the grains should be light and fluffy. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let it rest in the saucepan for 5 minutes with the saucepan lid on. After this, remove the lid and leave the quinoa to cool (if you are in a hurry, tip it onto a large plate and spread it out to speed up the cooling down period).
  • Once quinoa is cool – add the brown rice, apple puree, toasted cumin seeds and most of the pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds (reserve a few of each for garnish).
  • Season to taste. Garnish with remaining pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Serve, eat and then and go back for seconds.

* Optional – add some fresh spinach leaves or chopped coriander for greenery, also great with crumbled feta.
TIP: To ‘roast’ seeds (e.g. cumin, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds) simply dry fry these (no oil necessary!) in a dry pan over a moderate heat, stirring constantly (these buggers burn fast).

I served this as for Sunday lunch as a side dish, along with a green salad, as an accompaniment to a Moroccan-inspired roast chook and salad. It was delicious!

toasting seeds