Don't tell Diana, but I'm not as in love with quinoa as I used to be. When the superfood first came into my radar, I put it in everything from salads to muffins to bread. I rarely seek out new quinoa recipes now, but once in a while something pops up that I can't resist trying.
I don't remember exactly how I came across this recipe, but I'm so glad I made it. Defiling the healthiness of quinoa with bacon feels naughty and so fun. I wanted to make this more spring like so I added roasted asparagus, Meyer lemon zest, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was a great experiment that really played off. I loved all of the spring flavors especially that bright lemon zest. The toasted almonds give this great crunch and the tomatoes provide a nice balanced sweetness. The original recipe says this is a great side dish and you can punch it up with roasted chicken or a poached egg which I decided to try. This would be an excellent addition to any brunch menu.
Bacon Quinoa with Almonds and Herbs
(Adapted from Food & Wine, November 2009)
Makes 4 servings
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 sage sprig
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the asparagus evenly over the pan. Toss the asparagus with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 10 minutes until browned and the tips are slightly crispy. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan.
Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant and the shallot has softened. Add the quinoa, chicken stock and sage to the pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the stock is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and let the quinoa sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
Discard the sage and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the chives, parsley, almonds, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, bacon, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature with a poached egg if desired.