I am still kicking myself for forgetting to toss in the shelled pistachios. They were a pleasantly crunchy and color-coordinated addition at the end, but they didn’t quite make it to the photo-shoot. This dish happened a few weeks ago, just as the Union Square Greenmarket was revving its engine for Spring. I will not cry about how today is April 30 and I had to dig my gloves and winter sweaters back out of the closet, where I had apprehensively stored them when I spotted the first ramp of the season. Alas, I took my beautiful organic basil from Two Guys from Woodbridge up to Connecticut and set to work on a flavorful, healthy quinoa dish. My idea was to make it as appealing to the eyes as it is to my taste buds, and I think this mission was accomplished- if I do say so myself.
What I love about this dish is that it can be made a day or two in advance if you are expecting a few friends over for a spring lunch or dinner, and it packs up perfectly in the fridge so that you can spoon out a serving in the after-days for quick lunches and sides. Quinoa is one of the grandest ‘add anything’ bases. There are so few things that you cannot mix into this dish. Basil gives it a fresh scent and a springlike flavor, the raw spinach wilts naturally with the lemon and orange juices, the yellow beets are perfectly tender but still give you something to chew, the scallions give that onion-y kick, garlic for even more flavor,and the chickpeas offer a meatier texture. The orange segments need not be perfect; in fact, the less perfect they are, the more their juices extract. Each ingredient packs a punch of its own unique nutrients, and of course quinoa, the ingredient of 2014, is a superstar on its own as the only grain that can be described as a complete protein.
Ingredients (for about 8 servings):
1 12-oz box (Ancient Harvest) Quinoa, rinsed and cooked
Handful or two of organic spinach
3 or 4 golden beets, scrubbed
1 can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed
Zest of 1 orange, grated or minced
2 oranges, segmented
2 or 3 scallions, diced
A few cloves of garlic, minced (however many you prefer)
Handful fresh basil
Lemon juice, glug of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper