Natalie's Favourite Quinoa Salad

I've always been a fan of Natalie Portman. True, she is one of those natural beauties that looks great on the big screen but she is also a very fine actress. Being an actress myself it can sometimes be difficult to detach oneself from viewing performances with a critical eye and by that I don't mean to necessarily negatively criticise. I suppose performers notice things that perhaps the general viewing public may not only because we have been trained to see things from a slightly skewed angle. When I studied music it got to the stage where I couldn't simply enjoy listening to it for pleasure anymore. My mind would be thinking about phrasing, technique, musicianship to name but a few interferences and so my love of it did suffer. When I then went to Drama school I was adament I wasn't going to allow the same thing to happen but it's very hard when Kate Winslet is giving a magnificent performance and all you can think about is the process she went through to get there. Maybe this is because sometimes it can be a little too obvious that it is indeed a performance. Let it be known, I am not slagging dearest Kate off here just merely using her as an example.

For me, this never happens with Natalie. She immerses me in her world, her character and most importantly I believe her. To me that is the sign of a great performer. I don't want to see the acting, I want to believe it and that is what Natalie does best. One of my favourite roles that Nat played was in V for Vendetta. A strange choice but not one I'm embarrassed about. I don't really care that it's not cool or wasn't very well received, I liked it, and Natalie rocked (as usual). Her accent wasn't half bad either!

The fact that Natalie is a Vegan proves to me (not that she needs to prove herself to anyone but you get my point) that she is someone who is both beautiful on the inside as well as the out. A caring nature and a beautiful face - surely a winning combination if ever there was one!

I recently read a quote in The Observer Food Monthly, when they published their vegetarian edition, that summed up Veganism for me. It was put across so eloquently, so gently and yet so powerfully that you couldn't help but stop for a second and think. After the quote was a recipe - supposedly Natalie's Favourite Quinoa Salad. A delightfully light and refreshing dish that is sure to please any palate. I have adapted it a mere smidge but the essence of the dish hopefully remains.

I'll leave you with those words that affected me so much and cemented Natalie in my own personal little hall of fame:

Every time we choose not to eat an animal, we affirm our belief against killing, against cruelty, against violence. It can be a reminder, three times a day, of what it means to be human, and to have power over other creatures. Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

Goosebumps. Am I right?

Natalie's Favourite Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup sweetcorn (fresh, frozen or canned)

1/4 cucumber

1/2 red onion

5 sundried tomatoes

1 lemon

1/2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

pinch organic unrefined sugar

salt and pepper

handful finely chopped dill

handful of radish sprouts (or any other - alfalfa etc.)

In a pot add 2 cups of water to the quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover and then gently simmer until all the water has absorbed. Transfer to a plate and set in fridge to cool.

Finely dice the red onion. Skin and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small chunks. If you're using fresh sweetcorn, take it off the cob using a knife and blanche the kernels for a few minutes. If using frozen, place them in a bowl, cover with freshly boiled water, drain and rinse. If using canned simply rinse. Cut the sundried tomatoes into small pieces. Set all ingredients aside.

In a clean empty jam jar (remember, don't throw these things away they come in very handy!) add the mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar, lemon juice,  extra virgin olive oil and dill. Screw the lid on tightly and give it a vigorous shake.

Take the quinoa out of the fridge and carefully mix through all the ingredients. Pour over two thirds of the dressing and give it a gentle, coaxing stir. Serve in a bowl, topped off with the sprouts and using the remaining dressing to drizzle over the top.

Summer in a bowl x

p.s. I know it's autumn;)