There are a million combinations of ingredients you can put together. That’s a recipe, and it is something that I truly marvel at. How you can use a few ingredients to create something unique each time is astounding. You may have noticed that a few new ingredients seem to be sneaking into recipes and demand has created some expensive pockets in the supermarket. Yep, superfoods. I’ve been using Quinoa for a while now. There’s nothing tricky about it. You boil it like rice or slowly add liquid to it while cooking like you would cook risotto. It’s crept up in price now that it is so popular and I am told that it is being cultivated as quickly as we can eat it.
No doubt, who ever you are you have heard of chia. I am just beginning my experiments with chia or Chia seeds. Its a spieces of plant from the mint family. It’s leafy and it flowers but the seeds are what the plants are grown for and those seeds are full of omega 3 fatty acids and full of 25-30% extractable oil. There are a few types of Chia, they are mottle-colored with brown, gray, and white.. and a luxurious black Chia.
Where did they suddenly come from?
I know you’re probably pondering that question…… Chia was once almost exclusively eaten and grown in Central America by the Aztecs and a beautiful golden version was commonly grown and eaten in the South Western states of the USA, by Native Americans. It’s now a cash crop in Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Australia- can you believe? In 2008, Australia was the worlds largest producer of Chia!
There a a number of preported benefits and I am sure that a lot of them must be true. Eating seeds surely would have to be positive. I add them to my muesli and if I made smoothies thats where they’d go too. They can be used as a crunchy little spikes through salads and stirfrys added just before serving or as a coating for fish alone or added to crumbs. They can be ground up or added to foods such as baking and cereals. These little fellas are now the it food for making puddings and jams without the need for eggs, thickeners or loads of sugar. Very helpful.
Me, I like to embrace the new while keeping my feet firmly planted in the traditional cooking section of the recipe relm. So, heres a nice way to be modern and traditional at the same time. Grilled Asparagus, Lamb and a Beetroot and Chia dressing. Chia can absorb up to 12 times its weight in liquid. So it will thicken a dressing like this making a rich luxurious coating for this salad that can be soley vegetarian if you leave off the Lamb.
I have used beetroot powder. It’s a bit of a revelation all by itself. Once you buy it you can add it to cakes to get a nice natural redish colour. Use it in cream cheese icing for an eyecatching number, flavour hummus or yoghurt or add to smoothies. You get the idea.
Grilled Asparagus and Lamb salad with Beetroot Chia Dressing
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 60 ml water
- 20 gm beetroot powder
- 20 ml cider vinegar
- 5 ml maple syrup
- 40 ml olive oil
- 5 gm salt and pepper
- 4 Lamb leg steaks 500 gm
- 10 gm dijon mustard 2 teaspoons
- 20 ml olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper fresh ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 bunches Asparagus 12-14 stalks
- 20 ml olive oil 1 Tablespoon
- 150 gm danish feta cheese
- 1/4 bunch chives bunch of chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1/4 iceberg lettuce shredded, / or equivalent of Rocket
- 50 gm pinenuts toasted
- Soak the chia seeds in the water till they are gelatinous. Pour these into a jar with a lid then add the vinegar, oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and beetroot powder. Shake well and set aside.
- Toss the asparagus in the oil and put onto a hot grill. Turn to lightly colour and remove and set aside ( 1-2 minutes). The Asparagus should still be slightly firm and nicely coloured.
- Mix the dijon, oil, picked rosemary leaves, pepper and salt in a bowl and coat the steaks in this mixture and using the same hot grill cook the steaks for 5 or so minutes until medium rare. Set aside to rest
- Slice the Lamb
- Put the shredded lettuce, pinenuts,chives, sliced lamb and asparagus into a bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with crumbled feta and the dressing.
- ** You can serve this as a vegetarian dish without the lamb.