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Lemon-Scented Quinoa with Asparagus

April 30, 2008

So here’s the thing.

As many of you probably do, I have a loooooong list of recipes on my “to cook” list. Some of these come from my food magazine subscriptions (BA, Gourmet, CI), some of them come from the time I spend browsing around epicurious.com, many of them come from food bloggers whom I regularly read (I simultaneously feel overwhelming love and just “overwhelmed” at my Google Reader list, many days.) And don’t even get me started on my cookbooks: this past year I finally tried to get my act together and put post-it flags on the recipes I wanted to try. I had grand plans to go through all of my 100+ cookbooks and do this. Months later, how many have I gotten through? Maybe six. Sigh. And flagging the recipes doesn’t mean I have any structured plan to actually cook them; oh, no. I’ve made baby, baby steps of progress through a handful, but I have a long way to go.

And have you ever noticed that lists of recipes “to cook” never get shorter?? I started a Google document for myself with links to all the recipes I find online that I may want to try. I originally thought this would help — they’d all be in one place, I could embed a direct link to the recipe URL, and I would slowly whittle the list down. But, as these things are wont to do, the list just keeps expanding, week by week.

I don’t really mind, though. “To cook” lists are entirely different creatures than “to do” lists. I don’t have any illusions that I’ll ever be “done” with my list of recipes to cook. I suppose that’s not really the point, is it? There’s just so much to try, so much to taste.

All of this is a long way of saying that I *did* try some of the recipes I’d had on my list. I’ve actually had quite a run for the past week or so. But…I was a bad blogger. I didn’t take pictures of any of them (well, okay, I did get one). Oops. But I still do want to share with you what I made, because happily, there were some real hits in there:

Spring Tabbouleh from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. Really excellent spring dish; asparagus, sugarsnap peas, walnuts, herbs and lemon replace the traditional tabbouleh ingredients. I loved this one for lunches, and will definitely be making it again.

Self-frosting Nutella cupcakes — need I say more?? A Donna Hay recipe by way of Baking Bites. Easy recipe, and the swirls of Nutella on top of the little cakes are pretty *and* tasty.

Otsu — another knockout from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks, via Adam, the Amateur Gourmet. The name of this dish reminds me of a sumo wrestler. The title “Otsu” alone is not very revealing as to what the dish contains — but in essence, it’s sesame noodles (I’ll insert my contented sighs and hums of happiness here.) Think spicy, cool soba noodles in a sesame-soy vinaigrette with crunchy cucumber and cubes of tofu. Perfect, perfect warm spring/summer lunch or dinner. Sesame noodles are one of my desert island foods: I could eat them EVERY DAY and never get tired of them. I just absolutely, positively ADORE them! This recipe came from Heidi’s cookbook Super Natural Cooking, which has been on my Amazon Wish List for….well, for a long time — I need to get my act together and order it already! I actually did get a picture of these before I scarfed down the last of them:

And finally, Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt — posted by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink, adapted from David Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop. Utra-simple, creamy frozen yogurt made with one of my recent obsessions, Greek yogurt. We spooned over it some leftover chocolate-raspberry ganache from some of the little chocolate raspberry truffle tartlets I made again — so, so (sooooo) good.

The one recipe I made over the past week or so that I *did* take some pics of is a quinoa salad with a lemon-herb vinaigrette and asparagus. I threw this together for lunch one day, and it was nice — bursting with the flavors of spring.

I think it would be an equally good side dish for some fish or chicken. if you do have it for lunch, you can bump up the flavor even more: I crumbled some herbed goat cheese over the top, and some chopped toasted nuts would be another great addition.

So there you have it: a few recipes for the price of one. That’s just what I’ll tell myself to feel better about not getting around to blogging about those other things!

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Lemon-Scented Quinoa with Asparagus

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
2 cups water

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
a good pinch coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional:
goat cheese, crumbled
toasted nuts

Directions
Rinse 1 cup quinoa well under cold water (to remove any bitter-tasting saponins), then place it in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Zest the lemons, reserving the zest. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl, and add the minced shallot and a good pinch (about 1/2 tsp) of coarse salt and a few good grindings of fresh black pepper. Whisk these ingredients to combine, then drizzle in the 3 tablespoons olive oil, whisking all the time. Add the lemon zest and the chopped herbs, and whisk to combine.

When the quinoa is done cooking, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and pour the vinaigrette over it, then stir with a fork or large spoon to combine and coat the quinoa while it’s warm.

Fill your saucepan back up with water, and bring it to a rolling boil with enough coarse salt to season the water. Add the pieces of asparagus to the boiling water, and cook for 1 minute. Drain the asparagus in a colander, and run some cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

Add the asparagus to the quinoa and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve as is, or with some crumbled goat cheese and/or chopped toasted nuts on top.

Makes 4 lunch servings, or about 6 side dish servings.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynne permalink
    April 30, 2008 12:28 pm

    Loved your post! The recipes sound delicious and as always, your wonderful photographs inspire me to try these dishes as soon as possible! I always look forward to reading your blog for great ideas.

  2. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink permalink
    April 30, 2008 2:31 pm

    I feel your pain (slash joy) over the ever-growing list of recipes to try and RSS feeds to read. It sounds like you’ve been eating very well! I’m so glad you liked the frozen yogurt. I just had an ice cream failure, so I think I need to make another batch of the frozen yogurt to make up for it.

  3. April 30, 2008 5:52 pm

    Sigh. You have such a wonderful blog that I want to make everything I see! I suppose that’s the point… and a sign of a successful blogger. :)

    I have yet to try quinoa. It’s on that huge “TO TRY” list that I have!

  4. April 30, 2008 5:53 pm

    I’d go ahead and put Super Natural Cooking into your shopping cart – it won’t be a cookbook that sits on your shelf, mine is dog eared and beaten up and I refer to it often (esp. for photo ideas).
    I love this quinoa recipe – very bright and springy – I have been on a farro salad bender and have been overlooking the quinoa in my pantry. Thanks!

  5. April 30, 2008 7:11 pm

    Amy, I so understand you when you talk about the “to cook” list. I too have that list, actually a folder, with countless recipes I want to make one day:) I have never made a quinoa, and I only recently heard about since it is unfamiliar to our cuisine. Your recipe is pretty interesting and may help with my first experiment with this unknown ingredient. Adding it to my “to cook” folder:) Thanks for the recipe!

  6. May 1, 2008 12:00 pm

    Those lists sure get our heads spinning, don’t they! Well, I guess it is better than having no inspiration at all! I really need to clean up my act though, I have this leaning tower of cookbooks/magazine/printouts on a desk in the kitchen and it’s not getting any better! I just love quinoa, guess this will be another one to add to the list… :)

  7. Emily permalink
    May 3, 2008 11:57 am

    Hey — Just wanted to let you know I made this today and it was fantastic! By far my favorite quinoa ever — this recipe is a real keeper, and made a great way to eat some of the asparagus from our garden. Thanks so much!

  8. Emily permalink
    May 7, 2008 6:30 pm

    Just made this again — twice in one week — and both times served it with grilled shrimp on top — the shrimp are just heaven with it!

  9. Crystalyn permalink
    May 26, 2008 9:38 pm

    I made this last night. I liked it warm, but LOVED it cold… looking forward to taking it to work for lunch this week! Thanks for posting to Tastespotting……

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