From the CSA Files: Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf

Friends have been telling me all week that they can’t wait to hear what I make with all the veggies from my CSA boxes, and this is the first of many CSA meals I’ll be posting. The inspiration for this one came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson.

If you haven’t been following Heidi’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, check it out as soon as you finish drooling over this dish. Heidi’s vegetarian recipes inspire my cooking on a weekly basis, and her photography is amazing. She focuses on whole foods cooking as I do, and many of her recipes are gluten-free, too. If you’re just getting into cooking alternative grains like quinoa, teff and millet, Heidi offers some wonderful recipes to get you started.

This dish is a quinoa pilaf of sorts, with flavors reminiscent of risotto, due to the addition of white wine, stock and a little butter. I love that it has all of the rich flavor of risotto, with a lot less fuss and calories. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m a lot less interested in standing in front of the stove and stirring risotto for a half hour. I topped the finished quinoa pilaf with some sauteed mushrooms and asparagus, and it made a perfect summer lunch, and one I’ll be happy to take with me to work this week.

Mushroom Asparagus Quinoa Pilaf

serves 4-6 as a main course

1/2 onion, minced
3 stalks of green garlic, sliced thin
2 T butter, divided
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 container button mushrooms (about 2 cups)
1/2 bunch asparagus (about a cup), sliced
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 pinches red pepper flakes

  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve, and rinse well under running water for a minute or two. Set sieve aside to drain.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 T butter, onion and green garlic, and saute until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, 3/4 tsp salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir, and bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add stock, stir, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat, and add the 1/2 tsp olive oil and asparagus, and cook briefly, 1-2 minutes, until asparagus is just beginning to get tender, but still crisp. Scoop the asparagus into a bowl, and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, over medium heat, add the remaining 1 T butter. When melted, add the sliced mushrooms, rosemary, red pepper flakes and a pinch or two of salt, and shake pan gently to toss mushrooms with the butter. Then let the mushrooms cook, untouched for 3-4 minutes. Stir once, then let them finish browning – another 2-3 minutes.
  6. When the quinoa is done, fluff it up with a wooden spoon, then ladle into bowls (or storage containers if you’re making this for weekday lunches as I did). Top with the mushrooms and asparagus and serve.

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