Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quinoa with Asparagus and Preserved Lemon Dressing

This recipe is way more effort than I normally undertake, but it seemed fitting for the final recipe of the 2011 asparagus season - #18!  Plus, I was intrigued by the preserved lemon dressing - had never heard of such a thing, so wanted to give it a try.  I'm not sure why I couldn't get the dressing to emulsify (maybe because I used the blender instead of the food processor as instructed??), but the flavor was delicious none the less.

Source:  adapted from

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2" pieces
2 T. olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil
Preserved Lemon Dressing (see below)

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender, about 2-4 minutes.
Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add onion and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.  Add quinoa, water and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until all water has evaporated, approximately 20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.
Transfer quinoa to a serving platter.  Add asparagus and toss to combine.  Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with pine nuts and basil.  Garnish with chopped preserved lemons.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield:  6 servings

Preserved Lemon Dressing

1 lemon from Preserved Lemons (see below)
7-8 T. olive oil
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Rinse lemon in water, drain and cut in half.  Removed seeds and flesh from half of the lemon and chop rind into little pieces; set aside.
Remove seeds from remaining lemon half and add to the bowl of a food processor along with olive oil, cumin, coriander, and pepper; process until pureed.  If dressing seems too thick, add water to reach desired consistency.  Stir in preserved rind.

Preserved Lemons

8 lemons plus more as needed
juice of 4 lemons plus more as needed
coarse sea salt
1/2 c. olive oil

Leaving one end in tact, cut lemons lengthwise into quarters.  Using your fingers, stuff about 2 T. salt inside each lemon, close them, and transfer to an 8-cup, sterilized, wide-mouth jar.
Measure lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, add to jar along with half that amount of water, making sure liquid almost covers lemons.  Add more freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary.
Loosely cover jar and let stand, at room temperature, for 2 days, shaking the bottle each day.
If there is room, add more cut lemons with salt and add to jar, covering with more lemon juice, if necessary, and olive oil. 
To use lemons, rinse with water. Remove seeds and pith and discard.  Use peel as desired.

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