I discovered quinoa 20 years ago thanks to a tip from a dear friend who was teaching in Ecuador at the time. It is an ancient plant whose grain-like seeds contain protein, essential amino acids, as well as phosphorus, magnesium and iron. A good source of dietary fibre, quinoa also contains calcium, making it especially useful for vegan and lactose-free diets. Many people think they don’t like quinoa the first time they try it, probably because of its somewhat bland, albeit slightly nutty, flavour. But add a taste punch with savoury roasted vegetables and pesto and you’ve got an awesome meal that is both delicious and nutritious. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. Several different varieties of quinoa are now available at most natural food stores; I particularly like the red quinioa for its appealing colour on the plate.
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 2/3 cups uncooked quinoa
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup basil pesto
2 medium green or yellow zucchini
1 red or yellow pepper
1 cup mushrooms
½ large Spanish onion
any other vegetables, as desired (parsnips, carrots, squash, etc.)
2 – 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 – 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Cut the vegetables you plan to roast in large (1 inch) chunks and put in a bowl. Drizzle with enough balsamic vinegar to coat lightly, stirring, then enough olive oil to coat thoroughly. Stir again.
- Roast in the oven at 400F until soft (about 30 minutes) or barbeque at med-high using a grill pan, turning the vegetables frequently for even cooking.
- Transfer back to same bowl which you have not washed so they soak up any remaining oil & vinegar. If using within 4 hours, leave at room temperature. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate, then reheat to room temperature or warmer when ready to serve.
- While vegetables are roasting, put the stock (trust me: low sodium is what you want here because pesto is salty enough) and quinoa in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the cooked quinoa and stir. Proceed to assembling the dish or leave in pot to cool if planning to serve at room temperature within an hour.
- If not serving within the hour, transfer cooked quinoa to a storage container and put in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in microwave to bring the quinoa up to room temperature or warmer when ready to serve.
- To serve, spoon cooked quinoa onto a serving platter or shallow bowl.
- Top with roasted vegetables and drizzle with basil pesto.