Thursday, April 29, 2010

Double Broccoli Quinoa

Today’s recipe is geared towards those of you feeling a little adventurous. It’s not that the ingredients involved are all that exotic, it’s just that they are combined in a somewhat unusual way. It’s one of those recipes that made me think, “Hmm, that might be interesting – I should give it a try.” And so I did – with delicious results.

It all starts with quinoa. Have you ever tried quinoa? It’s one of my new favorites. Pronounced keen-wah, it is an ancient grain that originated in South America. Incredibly high in protein, quinoa is considered to be a super food. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it a good option for people with Celiac.

In this recipe, quinoa is combined with a pesto made from broccoli and almonds rather that the more traditional basil and pine nuts. Different, but tasty. Broccoli florets, slivered almonds, avocado slices, and crumbled feta cheese top the quinoa, adding loads of flavor and texture. Again, perhaps an unusual combination of ingredients, but with tasty results. This quinoa dish is fresh, healthful, and refreshingly different. Serve it on it’s own as a vegetarian entrée or alongside grilled chicken or fish for a perfect summertime side dish.

Double Broccoli Quinoa
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup quinoa
5 cups broccoli, cut into florets
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 big pinches salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream

Sliced avocado
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Fire Oil (optional) *

For the Quinoa:
Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse thoroughly, until water runs clear. (Quinoa has a bitter coating that needs to be rinsed off before cooking or your cooked quinoa will be bitter.)

In a medium pot, add the quinoa, 2 cups of water, and salt to taste. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water and you can see a little curlicue in the center of each grain. Drain any remaining water, and set aside.

For the Broccoli:
In large pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt and the broccoli. Cover and cook just long enough to take the raw edge off, about 1 minute. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again, and set aside.

For the Pesto:
In a blender or food processor, combine 2 cups cooked broccoli, garlic, 1/2 cup of the almonds, Parmesan cheese, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and heavy cream. Purée until smooth.

To Serve:
In a large bowl, toss the cooked quinoa with half of the pesto. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and/or additional pesto.  Stir in the remaining broccoli florets. Top with the remaining almonds, avocado slices, and feta. Drizzle with fire oil, if desired.

Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish.

* To make fire oil, heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a small pot until very hot, but not smoking. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside to cool. Store in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before using.


  1. Great recipe! I was out of quinoa so I used couscous, which turned out really well. I also halved the pesto recipe, but used a little more of the cream/oil mixture and it turned out great. Definitely a keeper!

  2. Allison - So glad you liked the recipe. Thanks for sharing the idea of using couscous. I know it can be easier to find than quinoa (and is a bit cheaper), so it's great to know that is works well as a substitute!

  3. Made this again with quinoa. I used frozen broccoli and 2% milk (its what I had on hand), and it still came out great!



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