Make planning picnics and BBQs that much easier by finding freezer space for some delicious cooked grain mixes, prepared vegetables and veggie burgers. This easy Zesty Quinoa, Bean and Artichoke Salad is perfect whether you are sunning yourself outside on a picnic blanket, or huddled under a marquee while the rain buckets down.
The hit-and-miss spring we are experiencing makes outdoor meal planning slightly nerve-racking. Even though I have lived in the UK for over 25 years, I still can’t get used to not being able to say with confidence – borne of being raised in Florida, “Okay, let’s go for a picnic on Saturday.” Or, “How about we meet everyone at the beach for a BBQ next weekend?”
Of course we can say all of these things, but in the back our minds is a matrix of contingency plans. Even just stating in the morning that as it looks fine we should eat lunch outside is enough for thunderclouds to appear and the wind to whip up.
Iceland can make the decision to eat al fresco that much easier. Instead of dashing out at the last minute to stand in a hot, heaving queue of people also loading up on burgers, kebabs, ice cream, salads, veggies for the grill and glistening bags of ice, you can just smugly open your freezer. Yes, your freezer.
I was asked by Iceland to come up with a Picnic or BBQ recipe using their increasingly interesting range of prepared foods and frozen ingredients. I was spoiled for choice really. If you eat meat and fish Iceland has a wonderful array of products to pop on the barbie, including some succulent-looking prawn kebabs. But vegetarians, and those like us who prefer to eat vegetarian, also have great options.
Most products are ready to cook and eat, while others are perfect for combining with other frozen options and a few fresh ingredients to create something completely different. I did a bit of both here. I combined a pack of their Zesty Bean Quinoa with a pack of their Marinated Artichokes and a good handful of frozen sliced peppers to create a hearty salad that can be taken to a picnic or BBQ. Or, in our case, carried outside into the garden under our apple tree and eaten on a very elderly, moth-eaten Scottish tartan rug.
I also cooked their Mediterranean Vegetables in a basil seasoning (see image below of it before cooking), and a couple of packs (2 come in a pack) of Piri Piri Sweet Potato Burgers. Iceland have an interesting range of frozen breads, including cornbread, baguettes and crusty rolls, that would be great slathered in garlic butter to go with your picnic food. I however choose their fresh St. Pierre Brioche Burger Buns to go with the sweet potato burgers, which to my mind are as good as any for which I have paid more than twice the price. I also noticed that, in addition to fresh and frozen vegetables, Iceland carry vacuum-sealed sweetcorn that would be good to pop on the barbie with a slab of miso-butter.
I didn’t read all of the packages for products I didn’t buy, but I imagine the food in their BBQ range can be cooked in the oven as well as on the grill. These sweet potato burgers are actually meant to be cooked in the oven but I bet that if you leave off the separate sachet of piri piri sauce you could finish the cooking on your BBQ to get those enticing grill marks. And while you have the grill all ashy and hot, chuck on some fresh veggies like oil-slicked aubergine rounds, strips of courgette and peppers, as well as a bundle of fresh asparagus. If I am eating frozen foods I always like to have something fresh with it too. Even if it is a big bowl of fresh fruit to go with ice cream.
If you haven’t been to Iceland in awhile, do go and have a look. Just remember to bring a big freezer bag, because you won’t be able to resist all of the new and up-to-the-minute flavours and products. I have made Iceland a regular stop on my shopping rounds, whereas before becoming involved in their #PowerofFrozen campaign I didn’t even consider it an option. How wrong I was. I am glad to have my prejudices turned over. Now, if I can only remember to turn the burgers over…
Zesty Quinoa, Bean and Artichoke Salad
If you don’t have an Iceland nearby (they deliver), use an equivalent seasoned quinoa mix with vegetables, refrigerated, fresh marinated artichoke hearts (or indeed cook from raw), and sliced peppers. Roasted or barbecued asparagus spears would be great in this too. I forgot to add the toasted seeds, but do use some as it gives a great crunchy texture. This salad makes great leftovers to take to work.
500g pack Zesty Quinoa Bean Mix (it’s well-seasoned)
250g pack marinated artichokes, or equivalent fresh, refrigerated
125g sliced peppers, frozen or fresh
5 spring onions, sliced
Handful of toasted seeds
Juice of half a lemon
1. Pour the packet of quinoa mix into a glass bowl and cover with clingfilm, piercing several times. Cook in the microwave on high for 6 minutes. You can also cook this in an oiled wok (this is normally how I heat frozen things like this), stirring often and covering in between.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a wok and add the artichoke hearts. No need to add oil. Cook for five minutes then add the frozen peppers and cook for a further three minutes. When the quinoa is ready add it to the wok and stir well. Heat for a further two minutes. Spritz over the lemon juice and stir in the spring onions and seeds. Serve at room temperature as part of a meal.
Serve with veggie burgers, grilled veggies, hummus and green salad.
Iceland has commissioned me to develop recipes for their #PowerofFrozen campaign. As always, all thoughts, opinions and recommendations are honestly given.
Other posts created for #PowerofFrozen to get us in the mood for picnics and BBQs