Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Qunioa and Spring Vegetables

I had the day off yesterday. Completely off. It wasn't Saturday, so I didn't have to clean. It wasn't Sunday, so I didn't have to go to church. Yesterday was my day. And take a look at all the things I accomplished: got up (major accomplishment for a day off) made steel cut oats for breakfast, prepped the flower beds for more planting and moved some dirt to our future vegetable plot, made this quinoa dish for lunch, exercised, read outside in the sun, showered (yes, that's also an accomplishment), purged my email inbox, made dinner, went for a bike ride, finished doing laundry, watched the documentary Ingredients (which I highly recommend), and chatted with the husband.  The only thing I didn't do was make rhubarb crumb bars (coming soon, I hope) because rhubarb was nowhere to be found today.  All in all, I think I'd like to order 3 or 4 more such days, please.

Anyway, I had a request for something that wasn't a treat and possibly involved quinoa (I know, we've been a little too into desserts lately). And trust me when I say that this is the perfect dish for a sunny spring day. It has leeks, peas, and asparagus, all vegetables that are in season right now. As much as I really really love squash and sweet potatoes, I've been craving these light and fresh ones the warmer the weather has gotten. I think my body knows we're at the start of another growing season. And that is VERY exciting indeed.
Quinoa and Spring Vegetables
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite April 2011
Pictures by Kelly

Makes about 4 servings as a side; 2 as a main dish

3/4 cups quinoa, well rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek (white and pale parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced*
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 small bunch asparagus (about 8 oz), trimmed, cut diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  1. Bring 3/4 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Add quinoa and 1 teaspoon salt; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, 15 to 17 minutes. Drain if necessary.
  2. Puree broth, 1/2 cup peas, 2 tablespoons mint, and garlic in blender until smooth. 
  3. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek and onions; sauté until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir asparagus; sauté until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in puree and 1/2 cup reserved peas; stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add quinoa; stir to coat.
  4. Divide quinoa among bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint and serve. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired.
*Ok, if you're afraid of leeks or you don't want to buy them or forgot them at the store, or whatever, you don't HAVE to have them. Simply use 1 medium onion instead of part leek and 1/3 cup onion. But you're missing out on some tastiness without it. 

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