Tuesday, October 18, 2011

0 Recipe #291: Mushroom-Olive Quinoa Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

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Earlier this afternoon, I created this recipe on the fly for today's lunch. Although it's really supposed to be served as a side dish, I cut the recipe by half so it'd be perfect for a meal-sized portion. Since the dish has enough protein between the quinoa and the cheese, I guess you could also serve it as a main course as well. Of course, this dish is the kind of thing I typically think of serving at dinner time, as an accompaniment to chicken or fish, etc.

Quinoa is SO versatile and very healthy to boot. For starters, it's a complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids. Quinoa contains large amounts of lysine, an amino acid essential to tissue growth and repair. It's also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Please be aware that it also contains a decent amount of trytophan, so you might not want to eat it with turkey, unless you've cleared your schedule for a 3 hour nap after mealtime. LOL. Quinoa is also supposed to be good for cardiovascular health and may also help those with migraine headaches, asthma, atherosclerosis, breast cancer, &/or diabetes. For more details on quinoa's many health benefits, please see this resource.

Due to popular demand, I plan to create more quinoa recipes in future. In the meantime, you're welcome to browse the current repository. Hope you enjoy this recipe!


Mushroom-Olive Quinoa Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
1 c. mushrooms, well-rinsed and thinly sliced (about 3 large mushrooms)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. quinoa, uncooked
2 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced and densely packed
1/2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, julienned and densely packed
1/2 c. Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 16 large olives)
1/4 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced and densely packed
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, julienned and densely packed
1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded*

Directions: In a medium-sized sauce pot, sauté garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on low heat. Do not let garlic brown. Next add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and gently stir to combine. Cook for another minute, then add quinoa. Stir ingredients until just combined, and cook for one minute more, allowing the quinoa to crisp slightly. Immediately add dry white wine to deglaze and cook until liquid has been reduced to a thin layer on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Pour in 2 1/2 c. water, stir to combine, then cover (with a clear glass lid), and bring to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat to low again and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until water has been completely absorbed. With about 5 minutes of cooking time left to go, add fresh rosemary and sage, followed by the Kalamata olives. During the final minute of cooking, lift the lid, and taste for consistency; if the quinoa is still a bit too hard and crunchy, then add more water as needed (i.e., a cup at a time, waiting until each cup has been absorbed before adding the next), and continue to cook until the grains soften a bit more to the desired consistency. Be careful not to overcook. You don't want it to be mushy; it should still have a slight crunch to it when it's done cooking, but it shouldn't be so hard that it'll break your teeth. ;) When ready, remove from heat, open lid, add fresh parsley, basil, and cheese, and stir until just combined. Cover once again and let stand for 10-15 minutes, then uncover and gently fluff once. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings as a side dish, or 2 servings as a main course.

Chef's Notes: *To make these recipe vegan, just omit the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or replace with a non-dairy cheese substitute like shredded soy cheese, etc.

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