This quinoa 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've cooked this many times in the years since, and it's a great late-summer recipe that comes together quickly, especially if you keep a few of the components on hand. For example, I like to keep big jars of roasted tomatoes at the ready. Toasted pepitas are often in a bowl on the counter. And at some point during any given week there is leftover quinoa.
Heather's Quinoa: Variations
There are infinite ways to switch this up. If I have paneer cheese on hand, I like to swap that in for the tofu. You brown the paneer in a skillet, the same way you would tofu, and it gets nice and sizzly. So good.
And while you can certainly swap in a wide range of grains here - rice, millet, etc. - I love it with quinoa. You see it pictured here with tri-color quinoa, but I often make it with the white variety. Th recipe calls for three cups of cooked quinoa, if you're not sure how to make it, here's a page with my preferred method of how to cook quinoa.
Pepitas are my go to for crunch. Seconds choice is toasted cashews (chopped just a bit).
If you want to make this even more substantial, you can add in a couple hard boiled eggs, sliced into quarters, around the perimeter.
I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. The first time I made this was in 2008, and we still make it regularly. Especially when it is peak pesto season and cherry tomatoes are abundant.
More Quinoa Recipes
If you don't have the time or inclination make roasted cherry tomatoes, substitute some chopped, moist, sun-dried tomatoes. Also, a delicious alternative to the tofu in this recipe is 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 tofu, browned in a skillet a bit
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 1/4 cup roasted cherry 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. Taste and season with salt, if needed. 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 3 1/3 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.