May 21, 2012

Quinoa with Spring Vegetables


This is a great salad to make with any combination of seasonal vegetables. It is satisfying enough to enjoy as a main course, but makes an excellent side dish as well.

Quinoa, pronounced Keen-wah, is one of those super foods that has recently been showing up everywhere and has become very trendy. The burst of popularity is likely due to the fact that it is as versatile as rice, but with a little added crunch to the texture and a pleasing flavor. It originated from South American and the ancient Incans considered it to be sacred. They called it the "mother of all grains." Although it tastes and cooks like a grain, it is actually a seed closely related species such as spinach and beets. Quinoa is a complete protein packed with all 9 essential amino acids, and is rich in magnesium, calcium, and fiber. It is an ingredient worthy of all the hype.

Quinoa with Spring Vegetables
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
For all of the ingredients, please use only those that are organic or pesticide free.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
8 ounces asparagus, preferably thinner ones, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 avocado, cut into ½ inch chunks
6-8 ounces fresh baby spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
  quality finishing salt such as fleur de sel or maldon
  freshly ground black pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the salt and the quinoa. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes until the water in fully absorbed and the grains are cooked.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions. Sprinkle the onions with salt and cook for about 5-10 minutes stirring frequently. The onions should caramelize a little but not turn brown. If the heat is too high, adjust it down accordingly. When the onions are soft and translucent in color, turn the heat down if you have not done so already and add the asparagus. cook for only a few minutes until the asparagus turn a brighter shade of green. Do not overcook. If you are using the thin sort of asparagus, they are tender enough and best left slightly underdone. Remove pan from the heat.
Put the prepared spinach in a large bowl.
When the quinoa is finished cooking, pour the hot grains over the spinach. Cover the bowl with a large pot lid and allow to steam for about one minute. Remove the lid and gently toss the grains with the spinach. Add the peas (ok if they are still frozen) and the reserved asparagus and onions. Stir to combine.
Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to desired taste. Gently toss in the avocado and serve warm or at room temperature.


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Categories: Gluten Free, Grains, Kids in the Kitchen, Salads, Spring & Summer, Vegan Entrees

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