Friday, January 27, 2012

Spinach Quinoa Salad with Roasted Garlic and Cumin

 I have been itching to saute a large batch of spinach with a handful of roasted garlic as of late.  But on chilly, snowy days such as today, a plate full of savory greens, no matter how fresh and well-seasoned, just does not seem hearty enough.  But combined with quinoa?

Enter dinner...

and lunch for the next few days.

The recipe is my own

serve 4

The Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
8 oz portabello, shiitake or button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 bulb roasted garlic (about1/4 - 1/3 cup mashed)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1 large bunch of spinach, rinsed and woody stems removed
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the quinoa and water.  Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Continue to simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and Serrano pepper and sautee until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and lemon juice and roasted garlic; sautee until the mushrooms are tender.  

Lower the heat and add the spinach along with the white wine.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach begins to wilt.  Add the cooked quinoa and cumin.  Stir until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

The Review:
Slowly but surely I am beginning to find my way around with this amazing grain.  Overall, I feel the flavor combination was missing something, though I cannot quite place my finger on it.  The roasted garlic adds a sweetness with a hint of savory.  The wilted spinach and snappy quinoa play well off of each others' textures.  The cumin and serrano pepper lend a lovely, but not overwhelming heat.  The The mushrooms ground the dish with an earthy depth and the lemon and wine lend just enough tartness to tie the dish together.  So what's missing?  Probably a pungent, crumbly cheese like feta or blue.

Even with that missing note, I look forward to eating this for lunch over the next day or two.  I hope it is as wonderful after a day in the fridge as it was fresh from the skillet.

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