For a long time, a container of quinoa sat collecting dust in my kitchen cabinet.
I bought it because I’d heard – many times – about how easy and extremely healthy it is (full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants).
It made my pantry look all modern and healthy, sitting there … unopened.
The thing was, I wasn’t sure: 1) how to cook it and 2) how to season it so it tasted delicious instead of bland.
I finally decided to dive in and try it when I thought: why not mix pesto in?
I tried adding a broccoli and lemon pesto.
And I found that quinoa has a satisfying, nutty texture that’s complemented perfectly by a creamy pesto made of broccoli, onion, lemon, and pine nuts.
It was really, really tasty. And really, really easy.
I’m now quinoa’s biggest fan. Does Quinoa have a Facebook page? I would ‘Like’ it for sure.
Here’s everything you need to get started.
This recipe is simple and ready in 30 minutes!
Begin by toasting some pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Check on these delicate little guys often – they will burn on you in an instant!
Meanwhile, quickly chop some garlic and onion.
Don’t worry about dicing everything perfectly – it will all be pureed into pesto later!
Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes, until the onion has softened.
Grab a head of broccoli and cut off the rough stalk.
Then chop the head into florets and add to the pan.
Season well with salt and pepper.
When the broccoli has softened, throw everything into a food processor and puree.
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice and add to the food pro.
Add half of the toasted pine nuts.
Add some extra virgin olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pulse until everything is pureed.
Now, time for the quinoa!
Quinoa deserves its rep as one of the healthiest grain alternatives. It’s full of magnesium (prevents heart disease and wards off headaches), filling protein, and cancer-preventing fiber.
Plus it’s so easy: Store it in the pantry and cook up only the amount you need, just like pasta or rice. It takes about 15 minutes to cook in some boiling water on the stove top. And that’s all there is to it!
Begin by rinsing the quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer.
Heat some chicken broth in the saucepan you cooked the veggies in.
Reusing the saucepan = less dishes to wash later! (Math genius, at your service.) (I do what I can.)
Vegetarian/Vegan Alternative: substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
When the broth starts boiling, ladle out half a cup and set aside.
Add the quinoa.
Cover and reduce the heat to medium low.
You’ll know it’s ready when you see the little grains open up and unravel.
Add a bit of that broth you reserved to the pesto. How much you add will depend upon how thick you like your pesto. I add just a couple of tablespoons because I like really thick pesto.
Then stir the pesto into the pan with the quinoa.
Stir in the remaining pine nuts.
I love the color of this dish.
It’s a pretty, spring-like, pale green.
Here’s how I’d describe the taste: lots of velvety richness from the broccoli and lemon pesto. With a delicious, savory crunch from the toasted pine nuts.
I asked my Meat-And-Potatoes-Guy (i.e. husband, Chris) for his review.
He said “If someone told me 10 years ago I’d be eating broccoli pesto and quinoa for dinner, I would have laughed out loud. To say the least.”
And then “This is really good! I’m getting seconds!”
Here is the complete recipe: