Brown Rice & Quinoa Pumpkin Salad

I have recently been swamped with emails regarding ‘meal prep’ ideas for students living on a budget.

Naturally, these sort of recipe requests get me super excited. Though I am not someone who plans meals for the week ahead, the idea behind preparing your meals (especially at uni or work) is fantastic. Not only will it help your budget, but also prevents you from grabbing that ‘cheap’ or ‘fast’ option in the workplace.

While I’m on the topic… it’s also worth mentioning that these ‘fast’ options generally happen to be the worst for our systems. Over processed or packed with sugars, often prepared days in advance. While these foods are absolutely fine every now and then, its worth considering preparing meals ahead if you can.

Especially when they are cheap and cheerful like this one!!

This salad is something that I regularly whipped up at home over summer time. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t shared it online yet. It’s healthy, super flavoursome and also such a crowd-pleaser. Better yet, it comes together in no time at all (see notes below the recipe for even faster prep time).

Perfect for any dietary requirements, the vegetarian base for this salad works oh so perfectly on its own. If you are meat inclined however, adding some cooked chicken or beef would also work a treat alongside the pumpkin and veggies.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, the combination of brown rice and chia is a personal favourite of mine. The nuttiness of the brown rice, paired with the subtle hint of chia and all of their amazing health benefits, fills your stomach to the brim and leaves you completely satisfied.

Plus… there is something super awesome about the combo of soy with brown rice that I love, so I have incorporated that into this recipe too.

Enjoy served warm at dinner time, and reserve the left overs for up to three days in the fridge (in airtight containers). This is a super cheap option for students, and can be taken pretty much anywhere on the go with you.

Brown Rice & Quinoa Pumpkin Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber, diced into small chunks
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 red capsicums, cut into small pieces
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes, chopped into halves
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 400 grams pumpkin, chopped into small chunks (ready for roasting)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (for this and the quinoa, I used 4 Rice Pots and followed the instructions on there for cooking time)
  • 1 small handful chopped coriander
  • olive oil

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chilli
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, prepare the pumpkin to roast. Chop pumpkin into small bite size pieces, and combine in bowl with turmeric, a good splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss so that all the pumpkin is covered, then spread evenly on the tray and cook for 30-40 mins until tender. The pumpkin should be golden and slightly crisp on the outsides. Set aside.
  2. While pumpkin is cooking, prepare all vegetables. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, capsicum and coriander. Grate the carrots, then combine all veggies into a large mixing bowl. Add the chia seeds and sesame seeds, and toss so that all vegetables and seeds are well combined. Add cooked rice and quinoa, and toss again.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing. Give it a good stir, and make sure you add a good pinch of salt and pepper to the dressing itself, as well as the salad veggies.
  4. Once pumpkin is cooked, allow to cool slightly. Add pumpkin to the rice and vegetable bowl and mix well. Pour over dressing, and toss again, ensuring an even spread throughout the rice.
  5. Divide into serving bowls and enjoy while still warm. This salad can also be eaten cold, and is perfect as a bulk meal prep option for students at the beginning of the week.

Notes

To make this salad even faster, prepare and dress pumpkin as described above. Instead of roasting in the oven, place in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave on high for 7-8 minutes. Remove from microwave, and heat a medium sized fry pan with oil. Add pumpkin, and toss until cooked through and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

This salad can also be served with a protein option such as chicken or beef. Simply cook your protein as required, then stir through with the dressing phase.

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