By Jessica Roy Spring is the time for light and bright flavors that pop, alongside fresh health-boosting ingredients. You have heard (or rather, read) me go on and on about my affinity for quinoa, for its amazing health properties and its rich taste. In my kitchen, quinoa makes an appearance at least once a week.
This recipe can be served as a warm salad starter, or combined with your choice of meat -- shredded chicken, grilled sliced steak, or lamb chops -- to act as the main attraction.
We are doing what's called a "quick pickle" on sliced shallots, which just means simmering them in some vinegar until they are infused with a zesty kick. Then, the shallot-y vinegar is used to make a vinaigrette that the quinoa will absorb for maximum flavor.
Feel free to add whole spring sweet peas to this recipe, especially if you have a difficult time finding pea greens or tendrils at your local market.
Spring Quinoa Pilaf with Pickled Shallots and Pea Tendrils
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
Handful of fresh pea tendrils or greens (as desired)
Salt and pepper, as needed
Lemon zest, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. When oil is warm, add the garlic, dry quinoa, paprika, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Give a good stir, until quinoa is coated. Pour the water into the pan, and stir.
(Make sure to check on the quinoa periodically, to ensure the pan has not gone dry. If it has, stir in a few tablespoons of water at a time until quinoa is cooked through.)
While the quinoa is cooking, place the shallots and vinegar into a small sauce or saute pan, over medium heat, and simmer for 10 minutes until shallots are tender. Pour off any extra vinegar, and set aside to use for the vinaigrette (see below).
In a large serving bowl, toss cooked quinoa with vinaigrette, pickled shallots, and spring pea greens. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh lemon zest over top.
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (including vinegar from the shallots)
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
Black pepper, to taste
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until fully combined.
Jessica Roy is a specialty chef and caterer, food writer and chef instructor, and owner of Shiso Kitchen in Somerville, where she teaches classes. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/yourpersonalchef.