Tired of the same old side dishes--maybe a salad, maybe a baked potato or simply rice? If this describes you, then this is your lucky day!
I just love this dish! Why? Quinoa Pilaf is just a wee bit off the beaten path and is really a hybrid of a side and salad rolled into one gorgeous dish. The crisp spinach and the toasted pine nuts provide texture and a little crunch. The quinoa also has a terrific texture, and the lemon--oh, my--makes this dish so refreshing.
I bet the next question is "Just what would you serve this dish with?" The answer is anything you want. We like it with Rotisserie Chicken Rubbed with Rosemary and Sage Paste, with steak and with pork tenderloin.
The caloric count is calculated for six servings, but these would be really generous. This recipe could easily serve 8 unless folks want seconds. Enjoy this new and exciting side!
Here is my recipe:
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup baby carrots, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup chicken stock, made from scratch
3/4 cup baby spinach leaves, packed, plus 3 for garnish
1/3 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 medium English cucumber, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons green peas, thawed
Here is how I did it:
1. Place pine nuts in a single layer in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently 4 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add carrots and cook about 4 minutes or until slightly tender. Add onion and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and salt; cook until all vegetables are tender, about 5 additional minutes.
3. Push vegetables to the perimeter of the pot and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add quinoa and continue to cook another 2 minutes to coat quinoa with oil, stirring constantly. Add wine and cook until evaporated, approximately 2 minutes longer. Pour in chicken stock; bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer (medium low). Simmer until all liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender (15-20 min, check after 15). Remove from heat; keep covered and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Add spinach, pine nuts, mint, cucumber and lemon zest. Toss well.
4. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle top with green peas and extra spinach leaves.
Author's Notes: Recipe is naturally gluten free and can easily be converted to a vegetarian dish by simply substituting (gluten free) vegetable stock for homemade chicken stock.
Calories per serving: 240