Tuesday, April 20, 2010

pink lady quinoa pilaf with beets and avocado - something healthy for once!

After two weeks of throwing moderation out the window I figured it would be a good idea to focus on some healthy eating for a little while. I also wanted to make something quick and something that would incorporate a good amount of veggies from my weekly farm box. I immediately thought of Quinoa!

A friend of mine made a quinoa pilaf for me a few years back and it was, for all it's hippy and healthy connotations, surprisingly delicious.  She added sesame oil to it and the nuttiness of the oil mixed with the grain packed a flavor that I did not expect and tickled me right pink.

I now love this little grain. Unlike other, more common grains, such as wheat or rice quinoa contains a balanced set of amino acids making it a uniquely complete protein. It is also gluten-free which is nice for the surprising number of friends I have that are allergic to it.

I looked through my farm box and found beets with their greens, spinach and avocado and with that trifecta, I went to work. Yet another great thing about quinoa is that it takes very little time to prepare, in fact the longest part of this whole dish is roasting the beets.

Although I made this for a random Tuesday night dinner, this dish is also a beautiful first course for a fancy dinner party - the purple color of the beets bleeds into the quinoa and then the fresh green of the avocado is a nice finish.


pink lady quinoa pilaf
serves 5 as a starter, 3 as a main

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 beets, diced and greens set aside and loosely chopped
3 cups packed fresh spinach
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried avocado (3 fresh)
1 avocado, diced
3 Tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

-preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- put the beets in mounded on a sheet of tinfoil with the sprigs of thyme and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes.
- place the quinoa and water in a pot and cook over medium heat until the water is all gone. If the quinoa doesn't seem quite done then add a little more water.
- meanwhile, saute the onion and dried basil in two Tbsp of oil until translucent. Then add the garlic, spinach, beet greens and balsamic vinegar and cook for about 8-10 minutes until wilted.
- when the quinoa is ready combine the spinach mixture and the beets with the quinoa. Add the sesame oil and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and the quinoa will get to be a nice pink color.
- plate the pilaf and put a third of the avocado on top of each serving.