If you’re looking for a side dish that is beautiful, healthy and truly bursting with the flavors of spring for your Sunday buffet, this is it! Skinny Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice with Asparagus, Peas and Herbs.
Though often referred to as an ancient “grain” prized by the Incas, Quinoa is not a grain like wheat, rice, or barley at all, but the seed of a plant more closely related to green leafy veggies like spinach, beets and chard. Containing all 9 essential amino acids that form a “complete” protein, it also provides extraordinary phytonutrients that are known to help combat everything from heart disease and cancer to migraine headaches and menopausal symptoms. (Not admitting I’m having the latter, just saying, like unicorns, I know they exist..)
And by combining Quinoa (225 calories a cooked cup) with super nutritious but super low calorie cauliflower that’s shredded to mimic rice (only 28 calories a cup), as well as asparagus and protein packed peas (7 grams of protein a cup) you add even more anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and meat-like nutrition to this dish while cutting the calorie count in half!
So spring forward to your weight loss goals with this skinny dish that every body at your table will be grateful for!
SKINNY QUINOA AND CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH ASPARAGUS, PEAS AND HERBS
This recipe, born of a big family Easter Buffet, serves 10-12 easily. Cut it in half in you have a small family or are single. Either way, you’ll be shocked at how few left-overs are left the next day! With an organic poached egg on top, it’s a shockingly satisfying breakfast!
2 c quinoa
3 c water
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 t salt, divided (half for quinoa, half for cauliflower)
zest and juice of one large or 2 small lemons
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped and cut into 2 inch pieces, tips kept separately
2 T chicken broth
1-2 T minced garlic (matter of taste, add more or less)
2 c frozen peas (Pull from the freezer and let thaw a bit before you start cooking.)
1-2 c grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced (Salt and pepper them before adding to the dish.)
1/2 c green onions, chopped (optional)
1/4 c grated Parmigiano reggiano (the good stuff) or crumbled Feta (optional)
Sprinkle of pine nuts (optional)
Rinse 2 c Quinoa well in a fine sieve. (Don’t skip this step. Quinoa has natural insect repellents, called saponins, that will taste really bitter if not rinsed off.)
Toss it into a non stick frying pan (preferably one with a lid) and add 3 c water and 1/2 t salt. Bring to a big boil, reduce heat to low, cover tightly and cook for 15-17 minutes. Remove lid and check. If there’s still dampness at the bottom of the pan, leave the lid off and continue to heat a few minutes until all moisture evaporates.
Fit food processor with the grating disc and chop cauliflower into pieces small enough to to fit into feeding tube. Process, put in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 t of salt (DO NOT ADD WATER), and cover with a plate and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes.
(For a video on how to make my Cauliflower Rice and Magic Wild Rice, see my new show on Everyday Health here.)
Rinse pan, return to medium heat and spray with cooking oil. Toss in the chopped asparagus stalks (not the tips), 2 T broth (or water and a bit of salt) and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes until stalks are bright green and almost tender.
Squeeze lemon juice over all and stir again.
Add to quinoa and cauliflower rice and toss. Top with fresh grape or cherry tomatoes and 1/4 c Parmesan or Feta, you can even add a sprinkle of pine nuts if you like!
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
OR, you can add shrimp or prawns to it to make it a picnic salad or a buffet entree!
(If you do add shrimp, bump up the dill! The shrimp love the dill!)
Marinate shrimp, shells cut but on, in a big splash of white wine, a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, herbs, green onions, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Grill or just do in the same pan you made the asparagus in..about 3 minutes a side…
You can peel or leave it for guests to do on their own…. Either way, DEEEE-lish!!!
(Note for Kosher Cookers: Even though shrimp is always off limits for your feasts, Quinoa was declared Kosher for Passover a few years ago and seems to have been embraced by most rabbis. Still, a new controversy brews…and only you can decide if you want to chance it. As a very liberal Jewish house, we wing it here, and hope God appreciates that we’re trying to be proper where we can…