Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf and Lemon Herb Tofu

O Quinoa, Quinoa, wherefore art thou Quinoa? Yes, Quinoa is my new love.  I was introduced to Quinoa from my lovely cousin few months ago; I’ve had millets, couscous, bulghur and other tiny grains, but quinoa? If you don’t know what quinoa looks like, it resembles a lot like millet and/or couscous.  Quinoa comes in yellow or red, and when cooked this curlicue fiber thing comes out
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do you see the grains with the curlicue fibers?  Apparently quinoa originated from the Andean region 6000 years ago.  According to the Wikipedia   “Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods.[4] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa isgluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.[4]”  Now, that’s a super grain for you!!

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Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf: serves 4
1-1/2 cups raw quinoa
2-1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 tomato, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
grated Parmesan, Cheddar, or feta cheese (optional)

Thoroughly rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (rinsing removes the residue of the grain’s bitter coating).  In a covered saucepan on high heat, bring the quinoa, broth, and thyme to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Cover and set aside. 
While the quinoa cooks, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until softened.  Add the carrots and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally and covering the skillet, if necessary, to prevent sticking.  Add the bell pepper and peas and sauté just until they are hot, a couple of minutes.  Stir in the tomato, salt and pepper, cover, and remove from the heat. 
When both the quinoa and vegetables are done, combine them.  Add salt to taste.  Serve topped with cheese if you wish. 

My opinion:  When my cousin introduced me to quinoa, I learned from her to sauté the quinoa until it makes slight popping sounds and you start to smell that nutty aroma. This process brings out more flavour from this precious grain.    So that’s what I did here.  After rinsing, I drained the quinoa until mostly dry, sautéed quinoa in little oil.  Then I added the vegetable broth, etc.   I didn’t have peas, so I used diced zucchinis and omitted cheese.  The vegetables are just sautéed enough it’s still crunchy but cooked just enough.  I love garlic so I put extra garlic too!  This was sooooo tasty and light, I just wanted to keep on eating!  

Lemon Herb Tofu: serves 4  
1 cake firm tofu (about 16 ounces)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as rosemary, dill or oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Cut the block of tofu into 4 slices and then cut the slices into cubes, triangles, or strips.  Spread the tofu pieces in a single layer in a lightly oiled baking pan large enough to hold them. 
Whish together the lemon juice, soy sauce, oil, herbs, pepper, and garlic, and pour over the tofu.  Bake uncovered, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until most of the marinade is absorbed, the oil is sizzling, and the tofu is firm and chewy, 30-35 minutes.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled. 
Note:  Use fresh herbs in place of dried: 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or cilantro, 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. 

My opinion: I used Herb de Provence for the herbs.  Since I’m a garlic lover, I added garlics,  and after cutting the tofu slices into wedges I marinated them in the sauce for about 5 minutes and laid them on the baking pan.  I absolutely loved this tofu dish, especially with the quinoa dish above.  I love using Herb de Provence because with each bite I took from tofu I tasted different herbs!  My mouth is watering just thinking about the quinoa and this tofu dish!!!

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2 thoughts on “Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf and Lemon Herb Tofu

  1. i LOVE quinoa too… i treat it like couscous a bit, but more like a salad thing, adding diced cucumber, diced tomatoes, chopped dill, parsley, chives, and sometimes very finely chopped onion too… oh, and pomegranate seeds! then loads of olive oil and lemon juice, salt n pepper… very refreshing, it s got a bite and is great with grilled fish 😉

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