Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf

Originally, we intended this dish to complement Salmon Cakes with Greens, but we ended up serving it as a main meal a few days later. For those unfamiliar with quinoa, it’s a grain, similar in texture to couscous and packed with protein. It’s very filling, hence the decision to serve it as our main dish. Though I was skeptical about it at first (I was put off by the bright green color, mushrooms and peas), this is a filling, savory and nutritious meal, perfect for weekday lunches or a pre-marathon energy boost.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups peas, divided
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large leek, halved, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
  • 1 14-ounce bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces

Preparation:

Bring 2 1/2 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.

Puree broth, 1 cup peas, 4 tablespoons mint, and garlic in blender until smooth

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek and shallots; sauté until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, then asparagus; sauté until mushrooms are tender and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in puree and 1 cup peas; stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add quinoa; stir to coat.

Divide pilaf among bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint and serve.

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