All of the little vegetables were prepped and looking their very best. An excited murmuring surrounded the cutting board where all were piled up waiting in eager anticipation of the great gathering that awaited them. The plump, red little cherry tomatoes were washed, shiny and halved; the tan-brown walnuts were toasty and chopped; the little white beans had been drained and rinsed, and the tender, green baby spinach leaves were cleaned and vibrant. Hands came down and the little piles were scooped up and sprinkled gingerly into the bowl. Each had been carefully selected to be part of this wonderful mix n’ mingle, and there was talk amongst them that there would be one more ingredient, a mystery guest, that would be the star of the party. They could tell from the little pot that gently simmered away on the stove that there was more to come.
The little vegetables could hardly wait to see the main attraction that would be added into their midst. As they peered over the side of their big, wooden bowl at the small, steaming pot on the stove, they wondered what could be in there? Suddenly, the same hands that had scooped them up, turned the flame off from under the pot and took the lid off of it. Steam gently rolled out and the contents of the pot were lightly fluffed with a fork and left to cool a bit. The bright little vegetables knew that it wouldn’t be long before they would get to meet their new acquaintance, so they got into their places in the wooden bowl. They waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity to them, but finally, those hands appeared again, now holding the little pot from the stove, just above them in their bowl. It was finally time to meet their new friend!
As the fork was raked along the contents in the pot, light little “rain drops” of grain-like seeds came sprinkling down onto them, golden and black and red, blanketing them in a warm, moist covering. What a marvelous thing! Too small to be rice, not stringy or bouncy enough to be pasta. Was this the “quinoa” they had only heard whisperings about? Indeed, it was! All of the little vegetables laughed with delight at having this protein-packed guest added to their midst to share in their excitement. The beautiful little pilaf was lovingly tossed together and topped with a luxurious drizzling of oil and lemon and a decorative dash of tasty herbs. What a time was had as the little vegetables were warmed by the quinoa, all to be enjoyed together by the spoonful, to the good health of all.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Tri-Colored Quinoa Pilaf With Walnuts, Cherry Tomatoes and White Beans in Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
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Tri-Colored Quinoa Pilaf
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
1 ½ cup tri-colored Quinoa
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, lightly torn
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove fresh garlic, pressed through garlic press
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup olive oil
-In a medium pot over medium heat, add the quinoa, the water and the salt; combine and bring to the boil; reduce heat, cover and allow to gently simmer for about 20 minutes, until quinoa is tender; remove from heat, uncover and allow to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with fork; set aside.
-Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until completely emulsified, and set aside.
-In a large bowl, add the cherry tomatoes, the white beans, the walnuts, the baby spinach and all of the fresh herbs; add the warm quinoa to this, and lightly toss; drizzle the vinaigrette over the warm pilaf, check/adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary, and divide equally among 4-6 plates while warm.
* This Quinoa pilaf is also delicious cold, and can be eaten the next day as a light, healthy lunch.