Quinoa with roasted vegetables
Just like in fashion, the culinary world also has trends (kale, anyone?) and quinoa was a trend that took the culinary world by a storm. Unlike some other trends that come and go, quinoa is now comfortably embedded in the culinary repertoire of chef and home cooks alike, and for good reasons. It is easy to cook, adaptable to many preparation, packed with good nutrients and for those of you who are gluten intolerant, it’s gluten free.
These trends come with a price and often have economic ramification on global economy as well as on ecological balance of the areas where these products happen to grow. The UN announced 2013 as the “international year of the quinoa”, in hope that it would contribute to global food security. However, as price of quinoa increases, less is available to the local population that grows it and more land is taken over by these crops than is perhaps ecologically sound, displacing other local crops and animal habitat. Something to think about when jumping on the bandwagon of culinary trends. Quinoa is now being produced in North America, China, South American countries and even in Australia. Quinoa is here to stay.
The seed (it’s not a grain) originates from Peru where it was indigenous food in the high altitude of the Andes for centuries. It was “discovered” by specialty food importers in the US and I suspect became popular as Peruvian food became popular a few years ago in LA.
Quinoa has a protective coating that is quite bitter and undigestible so watch for the product you buy: most of the quinoa available in North America has been pre-rinsed to remove that coating but if your package does not specify that it is pre-rinsed you should rinse the quinoa by running it under cool water before proceeding with the recipe.
I like quinoa for its flavour, lightness, ease of cooking and versatility, especially in vegetarian cooking. Cooked plain quinoa also keeps in the fridge well for a few days, ready to be incorporated into the dish you are preparing. Today I combined the quinoa with a variety of vegetables I had in the fridge, added currants and pomegranates seeds for a little sweetness and scattered a few nuts and seeds on top. I drizzled this with an olive oil and lemon dressing to which I added a spoonful of my all-time versatile flat leaf parsley pesto, mixed in a few micro greens (or use other greens) and there you have it, a lovely lunch or dinner dish that is light and substantial all at once. You can add quinoa to most roasted vegetables so look to see what’s in your fridge, you don’t have to run out to buy purple and orange cauliflower. It’s just what I had in my fridge today.
I am not giving exact quantities for the vegetables this time, it’s not that kind of a recipe. Just have a handful of vegetables, roast them and mix with enough of the quinoa to serve as many or as few as you need. One cup quinoa yield about 4 cups cooked so you will have leftover quinoa for another day.
Uses for leftover quinoa:
- cereal at breakfast
- make a quinoa salad
- add to a simmering soup, or
- add to a batch of quinoa buttermilk pancakes on the weekend.
1 cup quinoa (you’ll have leftovers)
2 cups water
A pinch of salt
A small bunch baby carrots
A small bunch baby turnips
Purple cauliflower florets
Orange cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup candied nuts, chopped
A few mint leaves, chopped
A handful of micro green or other greens
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely chopped
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
optional: one tablespoon flat leaf parsley pesto (see recipe here)
Bring 2 cups water to a boil, add salt and quinoa, stir it in then lower to a simmer and cook, covered, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat and leave sitting, covered for 10 minutes so the quinoa can fluff up.
Cut the carrots and turnip in half or quarters (depending on their size).
Break cauliflower into smaller florets.
Combine all vegetables on a roasting pan or foil lined baking sheet, toss with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar and roast at 400℉ until tender and beginning to turn golden. Don’t over cook.
To make the dressing combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify.
Place the roasted vegetables on a plate, add some of the quinoa and drizzle with some of the dressing (you may not need all of the dressing, use the rest for something else).
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Add the pumpkin seeds, currants, nuts and mint and fluff it all together.
Spoon onto serving plate or platter and scatter the micro green over top.
Note: if you have cooked the quinoa earlier you can reheat briefly in the microwave before adding the the roasted vegetables.