In the world of grains, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a winner. It is easy to cook (similar to rice but faster), has the nutritional benefits of being a whole grain, and is even a complete protein (most grains are missing a couple of the essential amino acids, which means that while they are good protein sources, you need to ensure you are eating foods with complementary amino acids to get everything you need. For example, rice and beans are a perfect combination because the beans include amino acids that rice lacks). Sadly, a few years back I tried making it a few times and just couldn’t get excited about the taste – I found it to be boring and a little bitter. Well, that was before I realized that you can toss it with pesto (in this case, broccoli almond)! I just came across this recipe for Double Broccoli Quinoa on 101 Cookbooks, and it is delicious. Remember I told you that hubby declared our recent Avocado Lentil Salad to be one of his favorites? Well, this quinoa dish may have topped that.
What’s even more exciting than this recipe just being wholesome and delicious (as if that’s not enough!) is that after years of thinking that no meal is complete without a piece of meat, I am finding that vegetarian meals can be totally satisfying. We ate this topped with slivered almonds and feta cheese with some toasted bread on the side, and it was a great dinner. The original recipe recommends avocado as another topping, and I think that would taste great, too! Feel free to be creative with this one…you could probably even add some dried fruit if you want to make it more like a salad. We enjoyed it warm for dinner, and I just had it cold for lunch, so it’s also versatile from a temperature perspective. Let me know if you come up with any other ideas that work well, as I’m sure I’ll be making this again many times!
Double Broccoli Quinoa
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 cup dried quinoa
2 cups broth (or water)
5 cups raw broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stems
2-3 medium garlic cloves
2/3 cup toasted almonds
1/3 cup grated romano cheese
2 big pinches of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approx. 1/2 large lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup (or less) broth
Feta or goat cheese, avocado, toasted slivered almonds, extra pesto
Cook the quinoa according to package directions, using broth or water.
Lightly steam the broccoli by bringing 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a medium pot and adding the broccoli, leaving it in there covered for 2-3 minutes. I needed to stir a couple of times to get the raw edge off of the whole batch. Transfer to a strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
Make pesto by pureeing 2 cups of the cooked broccoli with garlic, almonds, romano, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in olive oil and then add additional broth until smooth.
Toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli with about half of the pesto*, adding more if necessary. Top with any toppings you are using.
Makes about 4 servings.
* You could, of course, just make less pesto, but having some extra in my fridge to toss with pasta later this week is pretty exciting!