It is the time of year when peppers and fresh herbs are growing wildly in gardens. It is also the season when our family particularly enjoys fresh, Tex-Mex dishes. This pilaf is delicious with seared, wild salmon or fish (topped with dollops of homemade, creamy guacamole!). The pilaf is beyond tasty wrapped in corn or whole-grain tortilla and served with the standard taco fixins’. The dish is a nice change of pace from the standard Mexican-inspired meal and makes room for a bounty of nutrient-rich vegetables and greens.
I prefer to eat this with a fork, but my kids beg to differ. We are working on good table manners yet have quite a way to go! Hands out of the food, you two!
No wonder they can’t resist; it’s such a healthful dish! Fresh herbs and greens often pack more vitamins than other vegetables; this recipe uses a full two-cups. They are a wonderful way to add flavor to dishes without obscene amounts of fat and sodium.
Citrus is an additional salubrious way to amp up the volume taste-wise! It’s an excellent source of vitamin c, which aids in the absorption of non-heme iron, found in beans, legumes and other vegetarian iron sources. This pilaf sports citrus, greens and legumes, along with quinoa, a complete protein.
Both of my kids love this dish and were all over this photo shoot. “More quinoa, please!” and “Chocolate! Cheese!” (read: take my photo, please) were the cries of the hour.
The beauty of this recipe is that it makes great leftovers. Toss it with greens and your favorite vinaigrette, then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese for a light lunch. Alternatively, bake or pan-fry quinoa fritters burgers by adding egg and oat flour or bread crumbs to the pilaf and forming patties. Snu Magoo and Littlest Guy never say no to any food in the shape of a hamburger, especially a meaty-tasting, vegetarian version.
You can stuff the pilaf into roasted baby winter squash, top with goat gouda cheese and bake, hearty and comforting for a delicious vegetarian meal. Or, add the pilaf to chicken stock, simmer with shredded chicken and top with your favorite “chicken taco soup” garnishes, such as crunchy baked chips, manchego cheese and low-fat Greek yogurt. Of course, versatile quinoa gratin is a fantastic way to use the leftovers (if any remain!).
If all else fails, double the recipe and freeze the pilaf in small batches for a quick, balanced dinner anytime. You’ve got a balanced amount of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein in one scrumptious dish. Warm, sprinkle with chevré and you’re in heaven!
Another amazing, super-food delight we have enjoyed recently is a vibrant seaweed salad with a julienne of tart, crisp, slightly honeyed Fuji apple; refreshing cucumber; earthy, nutty sesame seeds; spicy ginger, zesty vinegar, bright cilantro and soft stands of umami wakame. We couldn’t resist the urge to add a splash of crunchy, bright orange carrot.
The savory-sweet recipe comes from a 2002 edition of Gourmet magazine and is now a family summer favorite. It shines when paired grilled fish, marinated in a spicy, jalapeño-laced soy-ginger vinaigrette, or as a starter before simply-executed, hand-rolled sushi roll. My little girl enjoys it best, mid-afternoon, as a light snack before dinner.
What are you cooking up this summer? Does your family have any favorite, garden-inspired recipes in your rotation? Feel free to share in the comments section, below!
Eat well – and eat up!
Fiesta Quinoa Pilaf
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 each: large red, yellow and green pepper, halved and sliced into thin strips
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, quartered and sliced into thin strips
4 large garlic cloves, minced
the juice and zest of one large lemon or two small limes
2/3 cup dried red quinoa, cooked/prepared according to package directions
6 scallions, green parts, only, thinly sliced
1 /2 cup each: leaves of parsley, spinach, cilantro and basil, chopped
1/2 cup pinto beans, cooked
1 cup black beans, cooked
1 cup corn, roasted or steamed
salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium to medium-high heat.
- Sautée the onions, peppers and mushrooms until soft and slightly golden, about ten minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and lemon or lime zest and juice.
- Sautée for a minute more, just until the garlic is soft and the juice has partly evaporated.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the vegetables and juice into a large bowl.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, though the salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Taste and add more citrus, if desired.
- Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving so flavors can meld.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.