This is a terrific and healthy dish that can accompany a variety of things (meats, poultry, fish) and makes a great leftover. Although it’s not native to Italy, it can be accompanied by some very Italian flavors–like cauliflower and mint.
Quinoa functions like many grains, in that it is boiled in water or broth, then combined with something that complements its nutty pearly flavor. It doesn’t need any pre-soaking and it has enough flavor on its own to simply simmer in water and serve like rice.
In this preparation, the cauliflower is cut into small pieces, sauteed in olive oil with onions and a touch of water and covered, stirred periodically until the water evaporates and the cauliflower and onions are soft and golden brown. Then the mint is chopped and mixed in. A little raw olive oil is drizzled on at the end to add additional moisture and richness.
Quinoa is great as a lunch as well, accompanied by a green salad with perhaps some feta cheese crumbled over the top.
Quinoa with Cauliflower and Mint
2 cups uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1″ chunks
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ slices
4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
16 mint leaves
In a broad skillet with flared sides, heat olive oil, then add onions. Saute over high heat for one minute. Add cauliflower and 3 tablespoons water. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Let cook for about 10 minutes, then uncover and saute until water is gone and all is golden brown and soft.
Place quinoa in water/broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and liquid is gone. Check every 5 minutes to make sure there is still liquid in the pot (add some water if the liquid cooks off too quickly). Taste and add salt and pepper.
Combine cauliflower mixture with quinoa and add mint. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil and serve.