Friday, May 2, 2014

Lunch Week 16: Spring Vegetables with Quinoa

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Spring Vegetables with Quinoa
I'm trying new things this week: quinoa. It's every where now due to the gluten free craze. But some people told me it actually tastes pretty good. So what is quinoa anyway? Well, it's actually a seed. But it can be cooked like a grain so a lot of people enjoy that ease. If you're concerned about whole grains, this is a good option.

So how did I cook it? Well, just like rice on the stove top. I washed it then boiled it on the stove until all the water was absorbed. Kept it covered for a bit longer off the heat then fluffed it like rice pilaf.
I've heard that you can cook it like a risotto as well making a creamy dish without actually adding any dairy products. But maybe I'll to that next time. For this lunch, I cooked the quinoa simply on the stove with water and a dash of salt. When it was ready, I added some pesto (it needed more actually) and let it cool down. While the quinoa absorbed that great garlicky, herb flavor, I worked on the vegetables. Just a simple saute in the pan then I added it to the quinoa. Simple indeed and I made used of the vast spring bounty. Turns out, this dish was vegan too. I was aiming of vegetarian but this was a happy surprise. Not filling enough for you? Add an egg (not vegan) or tofu for more protein. But I left it out and kept the dish green.

In the end, I thought the quinoa was a bit bland and needed more pesto. But the spring onions, peas, and asparagus was nice. I'll definitely try the risotto method next time.

Spring Vegetables with Quinoa
Makes 8 servings

4 1/2 cups quinoa
3 3/4 cups water, plus more for rinsing
2 cups pesto
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 bunch celery, trimmed and sliced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb spring peas
1 bunch chives, minced

1. Wash quinoa under water and remove any debris. Drain. Add to pot with 3 3/4 cups of water. Bring to boil on high heat, add dash of salt, then lower temperature to a simmer. Keep covered and cook 10-12 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 more minutes.
2. While quinoa is cooking, heat up saute pan on medium high heat. Add oil then toss in asparagus and celery. Salt and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add scallions and spring peas. Salt to taste again, and cook 5 minutes until vegetables are cooked through but retains their bright green color. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, mix pesto with quinoa stirring until well absorbed. Toss in cooked vegetables and chives. Mix well. Serve immediately.


  1. What's in your vegan pesto? I love quinoa. It adds a nice punch to salads too! It's super versatile. Not a fan of it being so popular now, prices have soared.

    1. My pesto is always vegan. So basil, pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper. I don't ever add cheese to my pesto. I don't think it needs it.


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