Heather’s Quinoa

Heather’s Quinoa Recipe

This recipe is an odd bird of sorts, but it was so well received that I thought I'd share it with you. Heather, my sister was on her way over for lunch. Wanting to avoid a trip to the store, I committed myself to throwing lunch together using whatever I had on hand. Now, I rarely combine tofu with Italian-style sauces, but this (and a few other questionable culinary moves) came into play as I reached for ingredients from both fridge and freezer. Working toward a nutritious, somewhat balanced, in-the-realm-of-healthy main course here's where I ended up. In a sentence - a skillet of quinoa, corn, chopped lacinato kale and pan-toasted tofu tossed with a big dollop of pesto and finished off with a few roasted cherry tomatoes.

I'd make it again, and I might even make it again swapping in paneer cheese for all or part of the tofu. I happened to use quinoa here, but really, you can use just about any grain you have on hand. Wayne brought home a packet of ready-to-eat brown rice from Trader Joe's the other day which would have easily worked in place of the quinoa here. You could remix this a hundred different ways depending on what grains, vegetables, and nut/seeds you have on hand. Maybe I should have titled it A Quinoa Recipe for Heather, but I think I'll make it for her again (hopefully often), so from here on out I'll think of it as Heather's Quinoa.

Safe travels home Heather, miss you. -h

Heather's Quinoa Recipe

If you don't have the time or inclination to roast cherry tomatoes, substitute some chopped, moist, sun-dried tomatoes. Also, a delicious alternative to the tofu in this recipe might be paneer cheese which can stand up to the heat without losing its form. Vegans can leave out the Parmesan in the pesto and make it more of a basil-nut drizzle - still tasty, and a good fit for this recipe.

a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 shallot, minced
3 cups cooked quinoa* (or brown rice, or other grain)
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups kale, spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped
2 cups extra-firm nigari tofu, browned in a skillet a bit
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes** (or chopped sun-dried tomatoes)

In a big skillet or pot heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the kale and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pumpkin seeds. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4 - 6.

*Rinse about 2 cups quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and 4 cups water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

** To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt - pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mintutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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