Quinoa is almost a complete food on its own….it has a significant amount of amino acids which makes it high in protein. It has a wealth of important minerals – iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, as well as some B-vitamins from its carbohydrate content and small but useful amounts of essential fatty acids. However, on its own, as with most grains, it is rather bland. That said it is incredibly versatile, and I like to cook it up and use it hot instead of rice or wheat-based grains, in its flake form for porridge, or just cold as a basis for some interesting and tasty salads. On top of all this, it is gluten-free! As it can be bland, it is a good idea to toast the grains in the oven for about 10 mins. before you cook it as it gives it a nuttier flavour and makes it a more robust grain altogether.
Begin by whisking all the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside. This helps the flavours to intensify.
Place the quinoa on a baking tray and pop it into a medium oven (No.5/170) for approx. 10 mins. Until it starts to turn golden in colour.
Transfer the quinoa to a saucepan and pour over vegetable stock water to just cover the grains. Simmer for approx.. 15-20 mins. Until the grains have swollen and are tender. Beware of overcooking as the grains can become a mush! Drain off any excess liquid.
Slice the fennel lengthways into fine slices; place in a shallow dish and immediately pour over the lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
Add the remaining ingredients, including the quinoa and pour over the prepared dressing.