Saturday, March 17, 2012

Broccoli and Lemon Quinoa with Cashews and Shrimp

This meal taste much better than it looks! Quinoa is a seed that cooks like a grain. It's super versatile and can be substituted for rice or couscous in most recipes. Its fantastic for a vegetarian entree because its very high in protein compared to other grains. Its also a welcome change to the same old rice or pasta side dish for the omnivore in your life. My boyfriend really likes quinoa proving that its not just for hippie vegetarians. Quinoa has a light and fluffy unique texture and takes to other flavors very well. I have used in every meal from breakfast to dessert and the only downside is that its about $4 a box.

The addition of cashews in this dish adds a nice salty crunch and the fresh cilantro brought some brightness and enhanced the lemon flavor. Usually when I prepare this I use parsley not cilantro but either works great. Fresh herbs can really elevate a meal and are definitely worth a few extra dollars at the grocery store. Shrimp pairs well with this meal especially if you squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them to tie all the flavors together. The best part about this meal is that its super quick to make and theres only two pans to clean up after, perfect for a busy night.

Below, I detail cooking the quinoa in stock and water but its also fantastic prepared with a little white wine or fresh lemon juice. The ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid but I like to use slightly less liquid if I'm going to squeeze lemon juice over it or dress it in anyway because the grain will absorb that extra liquid as well.

Broccoli and Lemon Quinoa with Cashews and Shrimp

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup water
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1/2 poundish of shrimp, peeled and defined
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsly
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley
1/4 cup cashews, toasted

1. Combine the quinoa, stock and water in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, give it one good stir, cover it and turn the heat down to low and let it simmer. When the water is almost fully absorbed, add the broccoli florets to the top and season with salt and pepper, do not stir, recover until the liquid is fully absorbed. When its done, squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over it.
2. Meanwhile, season the shrimp with the salt, pepper, dried parsley, and a little garlic powder.
3. Heat a large skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they cook quick so don't leave them unattended.
4. Serve with cashews and fresh herbs over the the quinoa and squeeze the other lemon half over the shrimp.

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