A couple of months back, inspired by the quinoa and avocado salad with dried fruit, toasted almonds, and lemon-cumin vinaigrette we ran in the February 2010 issue, I bought my first bag of quinoa. It wasn’t until I got it home and, scanning my receipt, realized I’d paid a king’s ransom for the not-quite-two-pound bag: 11 darn dollars. My only recourse? Become a quinoa master.
So how did it happen that this bag of gold found its way to the back of my cupboard, unopened? Perhaps it has highly evolved survival skills? It certainly does a lot of other things well, like providing all kinds of whole-grain goodness and taking a versatile role in the side dish category. Never mind–I found it, lurking in the corner, not yet expired. It rose to the top of my list of things to cook first in the big cupboard clean out.
Anxious to use up a bevy of orphaned vegetables in my fridge, I set out to make a kind of quinoa pilaf, sauteing small chunks of asparagus, zucchini, and bell peppers of various colors with a couple of cloves of garlic in olive oil. I simmered the quinoa in chicken stock for a little over 10 minutes (you could do this in water or vegetable stock if it’s a meat-free day), then stirred it into the vegetables, adding some chopped green onions and coarsely grated Parmesan just as I pulled it off the heat. A few leaves of torn mint added a little taste of spring at the last minute. Cleaner fridge, and another cupboard resident removed.
The inspiration dish: quinoa and avocado salad with dried fruit, toasted almonds, and lemon-cumin vinaigrette
Especially at $11.00 a bag, this stuff musn't go to waste.
The final quinoa dish. I'm really liking this game.