Quinoa with Cauliflower and Kale Pesto

This nutrient-packed dish was inspired by the cauliflower that’s started to appear at my local farm stand.

Cauliflower is so nutty and becomes so beautifully golden with so little effort.  I’m always inclined to make it with pasta or some other grain.  It simply needs to be cut into small florets and sauteed with olive oil to soften and caramelize it.  Tonight, I’ve added onion for sweetness.  Together, they cook, covered over medium-low heat, until both are golden and slightly soft.

Tuscan Kale pesto is a wonderful sauce for almost any variety of pasta, and goes particularly well with whole-wheat pasta, or whole grains, like quinoa or farro.  Tonight I’ve substituted pine nuts for the smoked almonds, to give the pesto a milder, smoother flavor.

The pesto is made by stripping the kale off the stems and boiling, then combining with the other ingredients and processing to a coarse puree.

The cauliflower and onion saute while the quinoa is boiling.  Then the three ingredients are combined  to make a side dish (or even main course) that is so satisfying, you’ll crave it the next day.

Tonight, along with the quinoa, we had grilled shrimp, rubbed with fennel seeds, lemon zest and black pepper, then drizzled with meyer lemon oil hot off the grill.

Quinoa with Cauliflower and Kale Pesto

serves 8

4 c quinoa

8 c water

1 tbl salt + additional to taste

1 head cauliflower, cut into approximately 1″ florets

1 small red onion, coarsely diced

1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

1 recipe tuscan kale pesto, pine nuts substituted for smoked almonds

In a pot, combine 4 cups quinoa with 8 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt.  Bring to a boil.

Cook, partially covered, over medium heat, for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to rest, covered for approximately 5 minutes (up to 15 minutes).

While quinoa cooks, place cauliflower and onion in a skillet with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

On high heat, bring to a sizzle, then reduce heat and cover, tossing and stirring every 3 minutes or so.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and continue tossing and stirring until the vegetables turn golden and become crisp-tender (approximately 12 – 15 minutes).

Drain quinoa and pour over cauliflower, along with some of its liquid.  Add pesto.

 Stir to combine and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

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