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Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 3, 2011: Quinoa salad with Persian dried lime

I know, I know - more Ottolenghi. This book's getting a real workout!  The quinoa salad became a must-try after I bought Persian dried limes in Dandenong.  Instead of going the usual route of piercing the limes and having their fragrance infuse a liquid, they are ground to a powder and used as a seasoning in this recipe.  Powdering the limes is easier said than done, as Ottolenghi hints in his preamble.  Michael went through several rounds of food-processing, mortar-and-pestling and sieving to yield 2 tablespoons of coarse powder. It's also very heady stuff, with Michael complaining of some dizziness (and olfactory hallucinations the next day!) from the intense aroma.

The dried lime lends a unique edge to another salad that's bursting with grains and herbs. Preparing the elements takes some energy (we cooked the three grains separately, as well as roasting the sweet potatoes and prepping the herbs), but there's lots to share around once its done and it keeps well for packed lunches.  (We ate pomegranate tofu on the side, which added further to the prep effort and lunch bounty.)  For a vegan version I'd recommend replacing the feta with cubes of smoked or marinated tofu; chickpeas could work well too.

Quinoa salad with Persian dried lime
(slightly adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi; recipe also appears here)

700g sweet potato
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup wild rice (needs 1 cup water)
a generous 3/4 cup basmati rice (needs 1 1/3 cups water)
1 cup quinoa (needs 1 cup water)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons oregano, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dried and powdered Persian lime
6 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
4 green onions, green part thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
200g feta, broken into chunks
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into inch-length cubes. Spread them over a baking tray or two, drizzling over half the oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender but not disintegrating, about 20 minutes.

While the sweet potato bakes, cook the wild rice, basmati rice and quinoa in separate saucepans.  In each case we covered the grains with the required water, brought them to the boil, and then simmered until tender.  The basmati rice and quinoa absorbed their water completely, but we drained the wild rice once ready.  Transfer the cooked grains to a large mixing bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in a frypan.  Sauté the garlic until lightly golden, then add the sage and oregano and stir-fry for a minute more.  Pour the mixture over the grains in the bowl.  Gently stir in the sweet potato, lime powder, mint, green onions, lemon juice, feta, and some salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Ah, see? No one needs to spend money on illegal crack these days... they just need to get some lime and a mortar and pestle ;)

    Looks fabulous!

  2. Love this!!! you know I am gonna try this soon right? :)

  3. I've been eyeing this recipe off for a while...just need some of the dried persian lime. Will have to scout around Brunswick/Coburg for some...its gotta be there somewhere.

  4. That, I am in love! I know the recipes are (mostly) on the Guardian's website, but there's something so good about the book itself.

    Gonna try this next - have you tried the cucumber salad with smashed ginger? He suggests it as an alternative to creamy things and he's right on. I dismissed the book a little at first 'cos of all the dairy, but the more I play with it, the more interesting it is.

    (Happy 2011, guys)

  5. Wonderful tastes even though fiddly to prepare and enough for a few meals. Worth th effort.

    I bought the dried limes from Al Alamy 6/5` Waterfield Stret, Coburg (just near corner of Sydney and Bell Streets intersection). Interesting deli.
    Grinding limes in a designated spice grinder did the trick to provide the dried lime requirement. I suggest 2 limes are needed to get the 2 tablespoons of dried lime.

    I might increase the garlic and herb amounts - maybe aussies prefer more spices and garlic than the poms are used to! Or maybe I overdid the rices.
    Keep posting your feedback on other Yotam recipes.

  6. I can't get enough of Ottolenghi at the moment either; this looks so, so good! I actually bought some dried limes from a shop in Sydney road ages ago because I liked the sound of them, but so far haven't got around to using them. Strangely, this means that everything to make this salad is in my kitchen. I know what I'm having for dinner!

  7. Look at all this dried lime love!

    Lucy, we haven't tried the cucumber salad yet - now that you've mentioned it I'll increase its priority. :-)

    Mary, thanks for sharing your cooking notes, especially that northside source for these limes!

  8. Oh my! I think this is a great quinoa recipe. Quinoa salad with persian dried lime sounds yummy to me. I'll surely try your recipe very soon. Thank you very much for sharing! :)