Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto

Y'all, this was so delicious. And not difficult or expensive at all! I was able to make it with aplomb under all sorts of hostessing pressures. I produced this last night as a vegan option for our Grilltacular (an all-day blowout that was very successful, but very shambly as well--shambly being the adjective for things that leave your house in a concerning state.)

I didn't do any of the grilling myself, but I did make andouille and beef burgers with caramelized onions and spicy mayo, using a recipe I got from Epicurious. Everything that came out of the grill (chicken, bratwurst, boudin, bacon, burgers, bacon, corn on the cob, kebabs, hot dogs, bacon) was very tasty and it's a crime I couldn't make myself hungrier. 

For the salad, I began by preheating the broiler. Then I halved and seeded my red bell pepper. I put the halves on a foil-lined baking sheet and roasted the pepper for 12 minutes. While it was roasting, I boiled the quinoa in a mixture of veggie broth, orange juice, and water. As it came to a boil, I covered it, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for 12 minutes. These things just cook themselves and you get so much time to finish your other tasks or open another beer or make small talk with all the friends who were nice enough to let you feed them and give them beverages!

The Moroccan pesto is a mixture of parsley, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, kosher salt, and ground red pepper. Chop the things that need to be chopped (parsley, cilantro, garlic) and combine everything in the food processor. Process.

After the bell pepper's nicely roasted, let it cool in a covered container (the recipe says zip-loc bag, but I just put it in a tupperware container for 10 minutes before peeling it and chopping it. All my components came together in a nice, timely fashion, and I consolidated the pesto, bell pepper, quinoa, and chickpeas into one bowl. I did not use olives, because I do not like olives (here I was going to say "unless they are extra-virgin and oily," but you can imagine how I stopped my typing fingers in mortification.) I sprinkled the pistachios on top.

Voila! You have now provided your guests with a vegan option! (Note: this dish was heartily celebrated by non-vegans too.)

Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto (via Cooking Light's Way to Cook Vegetarian)
1 red bell pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup organic vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
12 oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped (I left these out, not a big fan of olives)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cut red bell pepper in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic blag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.
3. Place quinoa, broth, 1/2 cup of water, and juice in a large sauce pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
4. Place cilantro and next 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine bell pepper, quinoa mixture, cilantro mixture, chickpeas, and olives in a large bowl. sprinkle with nuts.
(Yield: 6 servings; serving size: 3/4 cup)

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