Virtual Vegan Potluck: Saffron Quinoa with Spring Vegetables

Saffron Quinoa with Seasonal Vegetables


Makes 4 servings

Quinoa is one of my favorite gluten-free grains. It looks and tastes beautiful with the saffron added. When eggplant, peppers and tomato are truly in season, use them. In earlier summer, use green beans plus pantry staples of olives and garbanzo beans. Adding fresh herbs at the end always lends a bright flavor note and lots of antioxidants.

¼ cup warm or hot water

A pinch of saffron threads

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons olive oil (if desired)

1 cup sliced leek or onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup sliced snow or sugar snap peas (about 12 medium peas)

1 cup asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 8 medium spears)

1 to 2  teaspoons lemon zest from an organic lemon

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or sliced or slivered almonds

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley with a bit of chives or dill

Drizzle of lemon olive oil or lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the saffron in the ¼ cup of water for at least 5 minutes. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the leek or onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the quinoa and toast it. Add the saffron and the soaking water. Add the broth. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 12 minutes on the heat. Remove from the heat and add the peas and asparagus. Replace the cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Check to be sure that the quinoa is cooked through (it will have little white rings). Stir and add the lemon zest pine nuts or almonds and herbs. When ready to serve, add the lemon olive oil or lemon juice right before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.

Pressure cooking directions: Follow the same directions as above, locking the lid on the pressure cooker and bringing to high pressure for 5 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. When it does, carefully open the lid, add the asparagus and peas and put the lid back on for 2 minutes. Stir, add lemon zest, nuts and herbs.

Note: My method for cooking perfect quinoa every time includes decreasing the amount of water by ¼ cup for each additional cup of grain. For example, when making 2 cups of quinoa, use only 3 ¼ cups liquid on the stove top. When making 3 cups, use 5 cups of liquid.

As surprising as this seems, you can also freeze leftovers, if there are any, and defrost and eat them later. Still yummy.

©2013, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, The Veggie Queen,

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