Quinoa is called a supergrain because it contains so much high-quality protein. Here, its nutty flavor works well with the slight bitterness of the rapini (broccoli rabe) and sweetness of the dried cherries for a light side dish that could accompany grilled pork, chicken or salmon.
The pilaf comes together in minutes; the quinoa can be cooked hours in advance of a dinner party.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, cut into small dice (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 cup (6 ounces) quinoa, preferably the no-soak variety, such as Ancient Harvest brand
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 small bunch rapini (broccoli rabe), ends trimmed
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted (see NOTE; optional)
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Have ready a medium mixing bowl of ice cubes and water (about 2 cups of each). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil over high heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and become translucent. Add the quinoa and stir to coat evenly; cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. (At this point, the quinoa can be uncovered, fluffed lightly with a fork and transferred to a bowl; keep at room temperature for up to a few hours.)
Meanwhile, add the rapini to the boiling water and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender, then drain in a colander and immediately transfer to the ice-water bath. When the rapini has cooled, squeeze out all excess water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Just before serving, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium or medium-high heat. Add the blanched, dried rapini and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Add the cooked quinoa, almonds, cherries and lemon zest, mixing well. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper). Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Janis McLean, executive chef of the Morrison-Clark Inn.
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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