Quinoa is a pseudocereal.  It not technically classified as a cereal or grain as it does not grow as a grass.  This hearty plant originated in the Andean region of South America and was an important food source for the Incas.

Quinoa has a high protein content, thus making it a good food choice for those with a vegan or vegetarian diet.  Quinoa is considered to be a complete protein since it has a balanced set of amino acids.  In addition to being a good source of protein quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron.

I’ve been trying to add variety to the grains we eat.  We’ve tried quinoa several times.  I’ve learned that Randall does not like quinoa cold.  He also seems to like it a lot better if I toast the “grains” before cooking it.  Unrelated to the quinoa, Audra likes toasted pine nuts.

Hot Asparagus and Potato Quinoa Salad
    2 cups white quinoa
    4 cups water
    4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
    1/2 large yellow onions, chopped
    1 clove garlic, chopped
    1 cup pine nuts, toasted
    1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch segments
    1 green onion, sliced
    zest from 1/2 lemon
    vegetable broth
    olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa until the water runs clear and allow to dry completely.  Toast quinoa over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.  Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a large pot.  Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes (until quinoa releases spirals and becomes transparent).  Drain any excess liquid and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and onions.  After a couple minutes, add the potatoes and a little bit of salt.  Toss to coat the potatoes and cover for a few minutes.  Uncover and toss again.  Cook for a few minutes longer until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown.  Add asparagus and lemon zest.  Continue tossing the mixture until the potatoes are done and slightly crispy.  Add a little bit of vegetable broth to deglaze the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the quinoa with a splash of olive oil.  Gently mix in the potatoes and asparagus.  Top with toasted pine nuts and green onions.  (You could also dish the quinoa into a bowl and top with the potatoes, asparagus, pine nuts, and green onions.)

Serves 4 – 6.

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