Wednesday, April 6, 2011

lean & green quinoa with maple dijon vinaigrette

Lean & Green Quinoa with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
Last week, my sister Bollie left a comment on the blog asking me to do something with brussels sprouts.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I almost picked up the phone to make sure her Google account hadn't been hijacked.  You see, Bollie used to the pickiest eater on the face of the planet.  She was the kind of kid who ate waffles drowned in syrup as often as my mother would let her.  Her ideal dinner was three dinner rolls and half a stick of butter.  Okay, so maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but she really did make other “picky eaters” look like Anthony Bourdain.  Her diet included a steady rotation of peanut butter and cheetos sandwiches (yes, together), unseasoned chicken breast, Easy Mac, American cheese & butter sandwiches (not to be confused with "grilled cheese"), and very little else.  Luckily, she always had a clean bill of health, so we never worried too much about her.

Somewhere between 1994 and today, Bollie's tastebuds have matured.  She now eats "lots of vegetables", though she's "still not ready for tomatoes."  This in particular is amusing to me because Bollie is an aficionado on all things Italian and spent an entire summer studying, cooking, and eating in Rome.  I also don't understand how someone who eats eggplant and zucchini would find the little tomato offensive, but whatever.  So when she asked for something featuring brussels sprouts, the quintessential villain of the vegetable world, I was confused....but happy to oblige.

This dish is kinda an ode to my lil' sis - it includes green vegetables she likes (asparagus, green onions, and apparently, brussels sprouts) and is topped with a sweet maple and dijon dressing.  The maple pays homage to her favorite breakfast and the sharp zing of the vinegar and dijon combination reflects the one-two punch of her personality.     

The brussels in this recipe are roasted.  In my humble opinion, the only way to cook brussels is to pan-sear them or roast them.  Boiling or steaming them renders the poor brussels sprouts completely deserving of their reputation as a pile of sour mush.  However, the carmelization that results from roasting or sauteeing them gives the humble brussels an extreme makeover, elevating them from ugly duckling to belle of the ball.


Lean & Green Quinoa with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 2 as side dish, 1 as main

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa + 3/4 cup vegetable stock (yields about 1 1/3 cup cooked quinoa)
1/4 cup green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1/4 pound skinny asparagus
handful spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/3 pound brussels sprouts, halved

for the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Chop asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Additionally, prepare brussels sprouts by removing outer leaves, if necessary, and cutting the sprouts in half (perpindicular to the base).  Toss sprouts in 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of the maple dijon vinaigrette.
3.  Roast the asparagus and brussels (cut side up) 20 minutes, or until golden.  If your asparagus are very skinny, they will roast in less time, and you may want to remove them halfway through.
4.  Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa according to package directions or read my method for preparing quinoa here.
 5.  Mix roasted brussels sprouts and asparagus with the quinoa.  Top with green onions and drizzle vinaigrette overtop the salad (you may have some left over).  Toss to combine.


  1. 1994 is generous. I can remember Bollie eating cheetos sandwiches in high school. Also, there are brussel sprouts at the Dupont Farmer's Market now so this is great because I've been trying to find a good way to cook them. Gracias, tia maria

  2. I agree with Randi. Bollie definitely ate that combo for most of middle and high school. Then she switched to salads (crutons with a bit of lettuce) which gave way to her eventual liking of vegetables.

  3. Bring a little maple syrup home to try this scrumptious sounding vinagrette! xoxo