Tag Archives: quinoa

Cooking for your Health: Asparagus Mimosa with Quinoa

Asparagus mimosa tastefood

~ Asparagus, Quinoa, Egg, Lemon, Mint, Olive Oil ~

As you can see, this is not a crazy savory cocktail to be confused with the brunch-friendly champagne and orange juice beverage. Mimosa in French culinary terms refers to finely grated or seived hard-cooked eggs frequently used to dust salads and vegetables or as a component of deviled eggs. You might understand why the eloquent-minded Français would prefer the term “mimosa” for such a preparation. Not only is it poetic and mellifluous, it’s also apt: the crumbled canary yellow yolk of the egg resembles the brilliant mimosa flower which blooms in early Spring. Spring is also the time for asparagus, and asparagus dusted with mimosa is a popular and elegant preparation. I took this recipe one step further and turned it into a healthy yet light main dish, serving the asparagus on a bed of nutrient- rich quinoa tossed with olive oil, lemon and mint. I dare say it would make a wonderful addition to any brunch menu – accompanied by champagne and orange juice (naturally).

Asparagus Mimosa with Quinoa
Serves 3 to 4

1 cup red quinoa
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 large egg, hardboiled
Sea salt flakes

Place quinoa, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the quinoa grains are tender and release their white “tail”. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Heat oven broiler. Arrange asparagus in one layer on a rimmed baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Turn to coat. Broil on the top shelf until crisp tender, 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan once.

Add 1 tablespoon mint and 1 teaspoon lemon zest to the quinoa. Stir to combine. Spoon the quinoa onto a serving plate. Place the asparagus on top of the quinoa. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the asparagus and quinoa. Press the egg through a sieve with medium-sized holes over the asparagus. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes, additional mint and lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lettuce Wraps: Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

Lamb Pomegranate TasteFood

Charleston Wine & Food Festival – Lambs + Clams Contest
Round 3 WINNER!
 Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb Lettuce Wraps
Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

This month’s Lambs+Clams Contest, sponsored by the BB&T Charleston Wine Food Festival, featured a gorgeous slab of lamb shoulder provided by Border Springs Farm. I knew the lamb was coming and had some time to think about how I would like to prepare the meat. Lamb shoulder is a braising meat, best suited for slow cooking. The French famously do this in an all-day production, aptly named Gigot de Sept Heures, or Seven Hour Lamb. While I appreciate this method of slow cooking a tough cut of meat into supple submission with wine and aromatics, the end result is incredibly rich. After a few mouthfuls I find myself craving acidity and freshness to balance the unctuous meat.

This led me to think of Bo Ssam. Bo Ssam is a Korean specialty of slow roasted pork belly or shoulder, cured in sugar and salt. The pork slowly softens and caramelizes while cooking, finishing in a tender heap of meat that begs to be shredded and scooped into lettuce cups with rice and spicy chile sauce. The difference is that I had lamb, not pork, so I headed to the Middle East for inspiration. I generously salted the meat and coated it with a pomegranate molasses marinade and left it to brine overnight. Quinoa pilaf studded with pomegranate and mint replaced the rice, while a ramped up hummus spiked with harissa and extra lemon added heat and acidity. You might say that this was an around the world tour of inspiration: West meets East meets Middle East.

Lamb Pomegranate Lettuce TasteFood

Don’t be daunted by the length of this recipe. Most of the time involved is braising time. The quinoa and hummus are easy to make and may be prepared in advance of serving (they are also delicious on their own). The hardest part will be waiting while the lamb roasts and its intoxicating aroma wafts through your kitchen.

Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb Lettuce Wraps
with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

Begin the lamb one day before serving. While quinoa is not a Middle Eastern grain, it’s nutty and firm texture nicely complements the tender meat. Bulgur or couscous may be substituted for the quinoa. Serves 8 to 10.

Lamb:
1 (5 pound) lamb shoulder with bone
4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves, chopped

Butter lettuce leaves
Spicy Hummus (recipe below)
Quinoa Pilaf (recipe below)
Pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves
Lemon wedges
Hot sauce, optional

One day before serving, prepare the lamb. Score the lamb fat with a knife. Rub the lamb all over with 3 tablespoons salt. Whisk the pomegranate molasses, garlic, cumin and black pepper in a small bowl. Smear over the lamb to thoroughly coat. Arrange meat side-down in a large rimmed baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours, turning once or twice.

One hour before roasting, remove lamb from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Heat oven to 300 F. Transfer lamb to a roasting pan, meat-side side up. Pour any accumulated juices and marinade into a small saucepan. Roast lamb, uncovered, until very tender, about 5 hours. While the meat is roasting, boil the juices and marinade for 1 minute. Occasionally baste the meat with the marinade while roasting.

When the meat is fork tender, remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 F. Sprinkle lamb with 1 tablespoon salt and brown sugar. Return to oven and roast until dark brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, shred the lamb meat and place on a serving platter. Skim fat from the pan and drizzle pan juices over the lamb. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and mint.

Serve lamb family-style with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus. Accompany with a platter of butter lettuce and bowls of pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, lemon wedges, and hot sauce.  Scoop a dab of hummus into the center of a lettuce leaf. Spoon a little quinoa over the hummus, then some of the lamb. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, mint and a squeeze of lemon juice – hot sauce optional, but highly recommeded. Pass the napkins.

Lamb glaze~ Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb at the 4 hour mark ~

Quinoa Pilaf:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts divided
1 red serrano or jalapeno chile, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Place the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve and rinse with water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add white parts of the scallions, chile and garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add quinoa and cook, stirring, to coat, 1 minute. Add stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until quinoa is tender and the little white tails are showing on the grains. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add lemon, cumin, salt and pepper, to taste. Cool to luke warm. Stir in the pomegranate, parsley and mint. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Hummus:
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup Greek-style whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 to 3 teaspoons harissa paste, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Hummus should not be too thick. If necessary, thin with additional olive oil. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw

I served this Quinoa and Kale Slaw the other night as an accompaniment to grilled pork tenderloin. Quinoa is a hearty, gluten-free grain packed with nutrients. It’s tiny seeds are toothsome and nutty, yet, in my opinion, somewhat wanting for flavor and brightness when served alone. I prefer to tumble the little sprouted grains with a smattering of leaves, chopped vegetables and spices for a healthy and immensely satisfying side dish. This recipe pairs red quinoa with handfuls of chopped Tuscan kale. While it may sound like a lot of kale, the sturdy greens easily make themselves at home in the salad and provide a perfect foil to the quinoa seeds. The result is akin to a cole slaw, which, in this case, would be kale slaw.

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
1 bunch Tuscan (Lacinato) kale, tough ribs removed, chopped

Bring quinoa, stock and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover and reduce to heat to low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa grains sprout, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat. Cool slightly. Add remaining ingredients, except for the kale, and toss to combine. Stir in the kale. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese
Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad
Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon

Cooking for Your Health: Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale, Quinoa, Carrots, Red Cabbage, Chickpeas, Raisins, Lemon 

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t eat your salad. After all, we adapt our wardrobe for the cold season, and we can do the same with our vegetables. Fresh winter salads, fortified with grains and legumes, heartily provide us with a plateful of immunity-boosting accessories to keep the the doctor away. This kale and quinoa salad is packed with healthy ingredients rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and protein. Kale is a superfood, rich in vitamins A, C and K, high in fiber and the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids as well as cancer fighting phytonutrients. That’s a lot of nutritional heft for a member of the cabbage family. Teamed up with quinoa, an ancient grain and an amino acid-rich protein, these 2 ingredients form a powerhouse of nutrition, promoting health, clear breathing and anti-inflammation. More importantly, they taste great – especially when seasoned and tumbled with raisins, chick peas and carrots in a cumin-spiced lemon vinaigrette .

Winter Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette 

The beauty of this salad is that its ingredients may be mixed and matched according to availability and taste. Fresh, raw spinach may be combined with or substituted for the blanched kale. If you don’t have quinoa in the pantry, then try bulgur or wheat berries. Almonds or walnuts are a delicious, nutrient-rich substitution for the chickpeas.

Serves 4-6.

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
1 large bunch curly kale – (chou frisée)
2 large carrots, peeled, grated
1/4 small head of red cabbage, shredded
1 cup chick peas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup golden raisins

Prepare the vinaigrette:
Whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Add oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to emulsify. Set aside.

Prepare the salad:
Remove the tough veins from the kale leaves. Tear leaves into large pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the kale leaves. Blanch until bright green but not wilted, 10-15 seconds. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water or in a bowl of ice water. Spread in one layer on a kitchen towel and blot dry. Toss kale, carrots and red cabbage together in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, raisins and half of the quinoa. Toss with half of the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving platter or divide among serving plates. Sprinkle with additional quinoa. Drizzle with remaining dressing to taste.

This post is the first in a series of monthly posts devoted to Cooking for Your Health. In coordination with my long-time friend, Knirke, who is a Swiss-based pilates instructor, this column will provide a monthly recipe designed to boost health in synchronization with the season and a particular health theme in Knirke’s monthly newsletter. This month, the theme is breathing. Clear and deep breathing is essential to our vitality and health, providing oxygen to our blood and brain. The foods we eat can promote or interfere with our breathing. Interfering food allergens may be wheat, dairy and red meat which produce mucus. To counter this, it’s important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout the winter. Colorful produce is a rich source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, reducing inflammation, fighting infections and boosting our immune system. And, not only are they healthy for you, they are delicious, too. So, don’t just relegate your winter vegetables to a recuperative diet – enjoy them daily!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

~ Quinoa Tabbouleh ~

I love a good tabbouleh. For the uninitiated, tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad chockablock full of grains tumbled together with fresh herbs and diced vegetables coated with olive oil and lemon juice. It’s infinitely satisfying – hearty and fresh at once. It’s also agreeably flexible, allowing for a variety of ingredients, including the choice of grain. Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with bulgur or couscous, but quinoa is a tasty and gluten-free alternative. I like to serve tabbouleh as a side to grilled meat and fish, or as a light vegetarian meal accompanied by pita bread and hummus.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa is a South American grain, originating in the Andes. It is complete in protein, rich in phosphorous, magnesium and iron, with a nutty flavor. Quinoa is a healthy alternative to rice, couscous and bulgur – and it’s gluten-free. When cooking quinoa, be sure to cook it long enough for the germ or tiny tail to release from the grain. Serves 4.

1 cup quinoa (I used a combination of white and red quinoa)
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 red or orange bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 red jalapeno or serrano chile pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 bunch cilantro (or parsley), chopped

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed and the germ, or tail, is released from the quinoa, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Add remaining ingredients except for the mint and cilantro. Toss to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or up to 4 hours to allow flavors to develop. Before serving, stir in the mint and cilantro.