Quinoa (pronounced ‘keenwa’) is a true wonderfood, containing more protein than any grain (technically it is a fruit) as well as essential fatty acids and a whole host of vitamins and minerals (four times as much calcium as wheat, plus extra iron, B vitamins and vitamin E). Native to Central and South America, it is reputed to have provided the Aztecs with their enormous strength and as such is the ingredient of choice for most nutritionists.
Serves 4 – 6
1 whole free-range chicken (approx 1 kg or 2.2 lb)
1 large or 2 small preserved lemons
1 tbsp preserved lemon liquid
3 tbsp verjuice or white wine vinegar
60ml/ 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch parsley (approx 30g), roughly chopped
1 bunch mint (approx 30g), roughly chopped
1 bunch dill (approx 30g), roughly chopped
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To cook the chicken, bring a large stockpot of water to the boil. Add the whole chicken, ensuring that it is completely covered in water. Bring the water back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then cover the pan with a well fitting lid and turn off the heat. Leave it to sit for 1 hour undisturbed. It will continue to cook in the water as it cools.
After an hour, remove the chicken from the water and drain well. It should be perfectly cooked and moist. Keep the poaching liquid to cook your quinoa, if you like. Set the chicken aside and when cool enough to handle, tear the flesh from the bones, separating it into strips. Store in the fridge until required.
While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the preserved lemon liquid, verjuice or vinegar, and olive oil, then season to taste with pepper. Finely chop the rind of the preserved lemons (discard the flesh) into small pieces and add to the dressing.
To cook the quinoa, bring a large pot of salted water (or your chicken poaching liquid) to the boil. In a sieve, rinse the quinoa thoroughly to remove the starch, then add it to the boiling water. Boil for approximately 10 minutes, then test to make sure that it is tender before draining. You can tell when it is cooked because the grains will have turned translucent, leaving just a small fleck of opaque in the centre. Rinse under cold water, drain well then mix with the herbs (reserving a little for garnish), spring onion, lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the herby quinoa between four plates. Top with some pieces of poached chicken and finally pour over the dressing. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped herbs…