Sunday, February 11, 2018

Recipe of the Month: Green Quinoa

A few days ago, Brian called me into the kitchen for dinner with the words, "Well, I've made... something."

Apparently, we were a little short on fresh veggies, so he'd done a search online for recipes he could make with what we had on hand: frozen spinach, chick peas, and quinoa. He found this recipe for "Herbed Quinoa & Chick Pea Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing," but he realized he couldn't make it as written, because it called for fresh rather than frozen spinach, as well as a few other ingredients we didn't have (pepitas, fresh parsley) and at least one we don't like (feta cheese). But the lemon-tahini dressing sounded pretty good, so he figured he'd make that, combine it with the rest of the available ingredients, and see how it came out.

As you can see, it wasn't much to look at. The frozen spinach, being much wetter than fresh, sort of blended in with the quinoa and chick peas, turning the whole mess into a vaguely greenish-brown mass. Fortunately, it tasted better than it looked. The tahini-lemon dressing, reminiscent of hummus, was quite compatible with the nutty flavor of the quinoa and the starchy chick peas, and the texture was pleasantly chewy. We both happily finished off our first servings and went back several times for "just one more" spoonful.

I still think this might be better with fresh spinach (raw or lightly cooked) rather than frozen, which would give it more contrasting texture than this uniformly chewy substance. But on the other hand, being able to make it with frozen spinach, which we always have on hand, is a major perk—and kind of the reason Brian made up the recipe in the first place. So even if we try it some time with fresh spinach, I think we'll still keep the original version filed away as something we can always make when we're stumped for other ideas.

So here's Brian's initial version of the recipe, which I've whimsically titled
BRIAN'S LEAN MEAN GREEN QUINOA
  1. Cook 1 c. uncooked quinoa in 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth. (Brian did this in the pressure cooker; if you use a regular pot, you might need more broth.)
  2. At the same time, thaw and cook 1/2 lb. frozen chopped spinach according to the instructions on the package.
  3. Crush 1 clove garlic and combine it with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. tahini, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 3/4 tsp. salt to make the dressing.
  4. Dice 3 scallions. Toss these together with the cooked quinoa, cooked spinach, and dressing. Stir it up until it looks like a big greenish blob, and serve.

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