Monday, March 02, 2009
Leon's Superfood salad
Leon, in case you don't know, is a healthy fast food chain for people who like their food. A bit like Ottolenghi, I suppose, but with more of a generous nuance -and cheaper-, since their motto is also "better food for most people" or something alike. I have never had the privilege to set foot in one of their outlets, having not been in London at all for the past two years, but a visit there is definitely on my list were I to be travelling in those parts again.
So, they have published a cookbook, and the foodie brain behind the whole venture is Allegra McEvedy, who seems like a generous, funny character, and whose humour shines through the pages. The book is huge, and divided in two sub-books, one about ingredients, with lots of interesting info and trivia about the whole spectrum of food (including a seasonal chart and a cheese map of Europe), and one about recipes, not just those of the Leon signature dishes, but also "family" recipes, handed down by members of the Leon team. There's a wide variety of dishes, from pumpkin falafel to gluten-free brownies (with ground almonds), soups, salads, stews, meat and veggie dishes, cocktails, etc. etc. All focus on rather fuss-free methods and healthyish ingredients.
It's a beautiful, fun book, very colourful and warm, with tons of photos and illustrations, plus a page of Leon retro stickers. It makes you wish to be part of the Leon family... or at least be a regular at their restaurants. And it also makes you want to cook, which is probably the most important.
I have made the chicken with couscous, and it was delicious and rather easy. Today I present you the superfood salad. You'll find three versions of it in the book, namely the Leon Original Superfood salad, the Rainbow Superfood salad and the Chicken (or salmon) Superfood salad.
I have used the recipes as a guideline. I won't give you the exact recipe, because I think you can pick and choose and use whatever is most convenient, but here's the main ingredient list for the Original one :
broccoli (still a bit crunchy)
feta (I used halloumi, and grilled it in cubes in a pan)
toasted seeds (sesame and sunflowers, I had no pumpkin seeds)
alfalfa sprouts, parsley and mint (left those out)
I also used baby spinach, which is included in the chicken salad. The dressing is a simple affair of salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
It was absolutely delicious and made me feel full and virtuous. I particularly liked the fact that the toasted seeds make the quinoa taste crunchier and more flavourful, a good idea to retain for future use. I have made a lot of quinoa salads in the past summer with quinoa as the main player but here, it's just another component, which is just as well.
If you're interested, they have a website where you can find their menu. Most of the dishes on that menu are in the book, though not all. There are also many recipes to be found on the guardian homepage, where Allegra is a columnist.