Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm back! Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf

I'm back! Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf
     Yeah, I know, it's been a while.... Please don't be mad, the month of March was just so busy! On a whim my boyfriend and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip to San Francisco, California. We went for about a week, and ate our way around the city... but more on that in a blogpost to come. Unfortunately for my blog, and my readers, this one week trip affected my blogging/eating habits for roughly three weeks.
    You see, I spent the week prior to the trip trying to haphazardly put together meals out of the randomness that was the contents of my refrigerator. Because we all know there's nothing worse than coming home to a fridge full of moldy, rotted food.
    The week of the trip was spent eating every meal out, which I have a love/hate relationship with doing. I love eating delicious food at new places, but kind of hate the way my body feels after eating a lot of restaurant food. Plus when I'm on vacation, I'm not really thinking too hard about the calories/fiber/fat/sugar/protein I'm putting into my body, so I obviously get the most delicious thing I can find on the menu. Regardless I took many, many photos (roughly 800), and will soon be posting about my experience eating my way around San Francisco.
    The week following the trip was spent being exhausted, and wanting nothing but sleep. As far as I was concerned cooking could go to hell, I just wanted PJ's, a couch, and a TV remote. The jet lag killed me, and I was seriously pooped.
    Now I am BACK. I feel good, the weather is getting better, and I'm ready for some fresh produce, and a maybe a new camera soon (I love you Dad!).

    OK, now that that's been said, on to the food! This Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf is a lovely little dish if you're into all things green like me. I will give a disclaimer though, it is not a dish everyone I served it to loved... coughmyboyfriendhateditcoughsneeze. But hey, you win some, you loose some, and I liked it so this dish is cool with me.
     This is a dish from the "Fresh, Easy, Fast" section in this months Bon Appetite. In case you haven't tried quinoa before, it's a grain with a similar texture to couscous. It is also a "complete protein", which is not too easy to come by in the vegetarian diet, and "complete proteins" can be almost impossible to come by when eating vegan. This dish also takes advantage of the yummy spring vegetables becoming more available day by day up here in New England. So if you're trying to get out of your winter funk, lighten up your food choices, and take advantage of spring, try this dish out, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf
4 Servings
461 Calories
14g Fat
22g Fiber

1 1/2 cups quinoa, well rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed, divided
5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
 3 tablespoons, butter
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup shallots
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
1 14oz. bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces

     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, 15-17 minutes. Drain if necessary.
     Puree broth, 1 cup peas, 4 tablespoons mint, and garlic in blender until smooth.
     Melt butter in large high walled nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek and shallots; saute until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, then asparagus; saute 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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