I like to make a big grain salad to have on hand for lunch during the week. They pack well, keep well and well, make me feel better than most other things I would come up with for lunch.
Quinoa is a fave of mine, and I often change up the veggies, but keep the dressing the same – some version of a vinaigrette to flavor it all. So when Heidi reposted this double broccoli quinoa on 101 cookbooks this week, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
Especially when it packs a little punch with chile oil. The heat is important against all the other good-for-you stuff.
I am a big fan of pestos, especially non-basil ones, and so the thought of a broccoli pesto was right up my alley.
I changed it slightly from Heidi’s and a traditional one, as I omitted the parmesan. Shocking that I left out the cheese, but I figured it wouldn’t really be missed – and I was right. Plus, then I could amp up with more feta at the end.
Another bonus of the broccoli is that in the midst of winter when some veggies have gone into hibernation, broccoli is more of a year round staple. And not in the way tomatoes are now (and shouldn’t be!).
This quinoa salad is quite a perfect lunch as is, with the nice array of toppings, but if you want something more substantial (think dinner fare), I think roasted shrimp would be the perfect addition. Or a poached egg if you want to keep it vegetarian.
One thing is for sure – don’t skimp on the crispy shallots or feta – they balance the broccoli bonanza quite nicely!
Do you have other pestos you like? I am always on a hunt for new ones…
– Double Broccoli Quinoa adapted from 101 Cookbooks – 1½ c. quinoa 3 scant cups water (or stock) 5-6 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems (about 2 bunches) 2 medium garlic cloves ¾ cup almonds, toasted and chopped, divided juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T.) 1/4 c. + 2 T. olive oil, divided 2-3 shallots, sliced feta cheese, crumbled salt pepper garlic-chili oil (see below)
Make the quinoa:
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. NOTE – I find this to be the biggest pain that no one mentions whenever I make quinoa!! The quinoa grains are so teeny-tiny they either slip through or stay behind in the strainer. My fix is to line the strainer with a paper towel, and then once rinsed, I transfer the quinoa with the paper towel to the saucepan with water, and then just toss the paper towel. Its not perfect, but better than nothing. DOUBLE NOTE – I think Viva paper towels are the best, so I can’t promise this would work with ones not so sturdy…
In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and water until boiling. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the spiral germ in each grain, and it is tender but still with a bit of bite. Drain any extra water and transfer to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add a small amount of water (about a cup) into a large pot and bringing it to a simmer; season liberally with salt and add the broccoli. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes, so the broccoli has turned bright green and just barely cooked. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl, but reserve the cooking water.
To make the broccoli pesto puree half of the cooked broccoli, garlic, ½ c. of chopped almonds, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Drizzle in the about half of olive oil slowly and pulse until smooth. Continue adding the oil (up to ¼ c. total) until it has the desired richness. If you feel the pesto is a bit thick, thin it out with some of the reserved broccoli cooking water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a small skillet, heat about 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until they become crispy. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.
Toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli florets (make sure they are bite-size) with about ½ of the broccoli pesto. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, adding more pesto, lemon juice, salt or pepper. To serve, top with remaining chopped almonds, crumbled feta, crispy shallots, and a light drizzle of garlic-chile oil.
Serves 4 – 6.
Garlic-Chile Oil½ c. olive oil 2 medium gloves garlic 1 t. red pepper flakes 2-3 sprigs thyme
Place olive oil, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside. You can make this ahead and keep in the refrigerator, just make sure to bring to room temperature before using.