quinoa

This quinoa salad recipe is no boring deli-style side dish. It’s rustic, earthy, and a bit sexy.

A basic pilaf of quinoa and millet—two yummy, gluten-free grains—are combined with pan-fried Brussels sprouts and peas in a deglazed wine sauce and finished off with balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese. It sounds fancy on paper, and it eats a bit fancy, too, like something you’d be served at a formal farm-to-table restaurant alongside craft cocktails and braised pork belly. While it eats fancy, however, it really is a very simple recipe to prepare.

I use a half-and-half mixture of millet and quinoa here, but you can use any proportion that you like, even going with just one grain or the other altogether. Millet adds softness to the dish and a subtle sweetness, while quinoa has a slight crunch to its kernel and a pleasant nuttiness. When you’re cooking the grains, be careful not to boil them even a minute too long, or else they risk getting mushy. If your grains seem to have finished cooking but there’s still water in the saucepan, simply strain out the excess water and use the grains as they are.

For a totally vegan dish, you can omit the Parmesan cheese and substitute something savory in there, perhaps sautéed porcini mushrooms, toasted sesame seeds, or minced almonds—anything you like that adds a final note of salty umami to the dish.

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Peas

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients
½ cup quinoa
½ cup millet
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 cups quartered Brussels sprouts
Sea salt, to taste
1 cup petite green peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine or white wine vinegar
½ cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Drizzle balsamic vinegar, to taste

Directions

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. When warm, add quinoa and millet; toast until fragrant and barely browned, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until grains are just tender and liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and Brussels sprouts; add a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned and softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add peas and garlic; cook until peas and garlic are just browned, about 3 minutes. Add wine to skillet; bring heat to high and simmer until liquid is almost completely absorbed, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add vegetable mixture to reserved quinoa and millet mixture; add cheese and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

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Image: smohundro