This pilaf, flavored with shaved parmesan, parsley and lemon vinaigrette, is best with fresh local asparagus from the farmers market. Add quinoa, a high-protein whole grain that can be found at most major supermarkets, and you have a recipe that is perfect for the spring.
Enjoy as a satisfying lunch with a piece of fruit or as a side dish for dinner with a lean protein.
Servings: 8 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 16 cups water, for cooking quinoa
- 2 bunches (about 1 1/2 pounds) fresh asparagus
- 2 trays of ice cubes
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 2 ounces Parmesan Reggiano, shaved into thin strips
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from half a lemon)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Bring water to boil, add quinoa and boil uncovered on medium-high heat for 11 to 14 minutes until there is no white “dot” of starch evident in the center. Test a few grains; they will have a slight crunch. Drain in a fine mesh colander and let sit 5 minutes. Transfer quinoa to baking sheets and cool to room temperature.
- While quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Zest half of lemon into medium bowl, then juice the lemon into same bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until emulsified. Set aside.
- Set a large bowl of water aside and add ice cubes to it.
- Bring a second large stock pot of water to boil. Prepare asparagus by snapping the woody ends, about 2 to 3 inches, off the bottom of the stalks and discard ends. Then cut the asparagus stalks into 1-inch pieces.
- Add asparagus to boiling water, boil for 1 minute, then drain in colander and run under cold water. Immerse asparagus in bowl of ice cubes and water for 5 minutes, then drain. This will stop the cooking process and ensure the asparagus is crisp and tender.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, vinaigrette and parsley. Then toss in asparagus and garnish with shaved parmesan cheese. Taste to balance flavors and add salt or pepper if needed.
- Serve with a lean protein — chicken, fish, buffalo, shrimp or grilled tofu — or with marinated Portobello mushrooms.
Nutrition information (per serving)
- Calories: 280
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 32 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 11 g