I wanted to call this a risotto, but it doesn’t need constant stirring. Score. Texturally, it’s more similar to a risotto, thanks to starchy tiny white beans. This baby is a stick it in the pot and go kind of meal. There is no need to be slaving over a hot stove in 39 degree heat. Okay, in hindsight, yes, it was definitely that hot today. No lies, I got pretty sweaty. Who cooks on a forty degree day (in a hundred year old house that hasn’t even heard of air conditioning)? Good thing this pilaf only needs about fifteen minutes on the stove.
Quinoa, white beans, and early summer vegetables make up this meal. It sounds really healthy and boring, right? GUESS AGAIN. Creamy dreaminess ahoy. Just like risotto, minus white rice! I used a good bit of parmesan, but it’s really just as good without. All the vegetables can be found locally right now, even the onions and garlic, so hit up your markets and get the good stuff. I think zucchini, ramps, leeks, kale, spinach, or pretty much any green vegetable would be good in this. I like the combination of the sweet peas and the slightly bitter swiss chard. The chard came right out of our backyard garden. A little rhubarb sneaked in here, too. It wanted to remind us that it’s a vegetable. You don’t need to add the rhubarb, but it’s pretty nice.
I’d like to take this time to encourage all you lovely people out there to grow some food in your backyard, on a patio, or in your apartment, especially if you live in a city. Urban gardening is not only fun, and a great creative outlet, it’s also very important for food sustainability. It can save you a lot on your grocery bill, too. You can grow a lot in small spaces and without a big time commitment.
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Quinoa and Early Summer Vegetable Pilaf
Makes a giant pot of pilaf, but freezes very well
3 small onions, or 1/2 a regular onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks rhubarb (optional), cut into 2 cm pieces
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock*
2 cups swiss chard, packed, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups cooked or canned little white beans*
Juice of two lemons*
Grated parmesan to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large, deep pan or pot, sauté the onions with a little oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add the garlic and rhubarb and stir for another thirty seconds.
Stir in the quinoa, then the vegetable stock. Cover, and once you see it come to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the stock has been absorbed.
Add the chard, peas, beans, and lemon juice. Cover for a couple minutes, keeping the heat on low, until the chard has wilted. Stir in the parmesan and pepper. Taste before adding more salt, as the parmesan will act as seasoning, if you’re using it.
Serve warm. It makes a great leftover lunch.
1. Use good quality stock if you can, it’ll taste better.
2. You won’t even notice the beans. They add a lot to the protein in this dish and turn it into an entree.
3. That’s about 1/3 cup lemon juice, if you want to measure.