Sunday, March 30, 2014

Part Two: Vegetarian Options for a Spring Brunch

Quinoa has come a long way in the last few years. From health stores to the mainstream, its high protein content and delicate texture have made it a popular substitute for starchier pasta and rice.
Today, the popularity of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is growing steadily as people discover its pleasant nutty taste and superfood qualities. As a complete protein source also high in iron, magnesium, and fiber, quinoa is not only one of our healthiest pantry staples, but also one that's incredibly easy and quick to cook.

Cook's notes: Quinoa is more flavorful when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth rather than water. Try adding in some aromatic spices during cooking as well as a clove of smashed garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary and/or a dash of black pepper.
This recipe was inspired by and serves 4 but ingredients can easily be doubled. The vinaigrette dressing recipe below is enough for 8 servings. 
Quinoa Salad with Apple, Cranberries, Pecans and Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
Salad Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup quinoa (dry, uncooked)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 large Red Delicious or Gala apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Salad Directions:
  • Add quinoa to broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat,cook on low 10-15 minutes until the liquid is asorbed and quinoa has popped
  • Remove from heat leave covered for 5 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and add remaining salad ingredients
  • Drizzle with dressing just to combine all salad ingredients
  • Serve at room temperatures or cold
Maple Cider Vinaigrette
recipe adapted from Byerly and Lund's Cookbook
  • 3 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice 
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Whisk together cider vinegar and next 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until well blended or use blender.
  • Vinaigrette may be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to serve
Pear Quinoa and Spinach Salad
Cook's notes: This recipe comes from
A Lemon-Honey dressing recipe below was suggested for the recipe but I really liked using the Maple Cider Vinaigrette recipe. Roasting pears and grapes elevates this salad to a new level. 

  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 2 large Bartlett pears, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup quinoa,rinsed and drained
  • 8 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
Lemon-Honey Dressing Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1- 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salad Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine grapes and pears in a small bowl. Drizzle with honey and stir until fruit is well coated. Place fruit on a large greased baking sheet. Roast fruit for 15-20 minutes, or until grapes are slightly shriveled and pears are soft.

  • While the fruit is roasting, cook the quinoa. In a large pot, bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil. Season water with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in quinoa and cook until water is evaporated and quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Pour quinoa into a medium bowl and fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.
  • In a salad bowl, combine spinach, roasted grapes, pears, quinoa, and chopped almonds. 
Dressing Ingredients:
  • Combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, close, and shake until well combined.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad
Asparagus Roll-Ups
Cook's notes: This recipe comes from Taste of Home. It can  be a vegetarian side by eliminating the ham.

  • 16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed 
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 16 strips 
  • 8 ounces Havarti cheese, cut into 16 strips 
  • 8 thin slices deli ham or prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 16 whole chives
  • In a large skillet, bring 1 in. of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry 
  • Place an asparagus spear, red pepper strip and cheese strip on each piece of ham. Roll up tightly; tie with a chive. Refrigerate until serving  

If your iron does not have a non-stick surface, try this tip from the author of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb: Heat the iron to the hottest, non-steam setting. Sprinkle a brown paper bag with salt and run the iron over the bag.

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