Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lemon and Mint Asparagus Quinoa

Quinoa is a great source of protein and iron, and whether prepared sweet or savory, it's one of my favorites.   I typically soak it for an hour or so before cooking, but have recently read that to properly soak it (and all whole grains for that matter) it should be soaked overnight in warm water with 1 tablespoon of acid (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, etc) per cup of soaking liquid.  Did you know that?  I had no idea.  All this time I've just been soaking stuff in plain water.

Then again, I'm finding plenty of sites that say you don't need to soak quinoa.  Here's a good one with some tips on preparation.  Nourishing Traditions also has great information on why and how to soak grains, and this site has a blurb from Nourishing Traditions and a rant on oat soaking if you're curious.

To soak or not to soak.  What's a person to do?  The interwebs are so confusing.  So much information, so difficult to get to the bottom of it all.

For me, for now, I'm going to keep soaking it for an hour(ish) before cooking, and giving it a good rinse after the soak.  The idea is that this makes it more digestible, and prevents it from blocking mineral absorption.  If you guys know any more on the topic, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

This is a simple recipe, the first in a string of quinoa recipes I plan to put up.  It makes for a tasty accompaniment to steamed or roasted vegetables, is awesome in a wrap with dressed greens and fresh avocado, and makes for a full meal with the addition of grilled tempeh or tofu.


4 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked)
1 medium sized bunch of asparagus stalks
1 small bunch curly parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, chiffonade
1 lemon
1 garlic clove
Olive oil

  • Juice 1/2 of the lemon into a large mixing bowl
  • Crush the clove of garlic and finely mince it, or put it through a garlic press, and add to the lemon juice along with a pinch of salt, a small glug of olive oil, and a few cracks of pepper.  Set aside.
  • Wash the asparagus and trim off the woody ends, then cut into very thin coins.  Cut like this, you can eat asparagus raw.  Who knew?  You want at least two cups.  Toss into the bowl along with the parsley and mint and give it all a good mix.
  • If you're cooking the quinoa, do the above steps first, which gives the asparagus a chance to marinate while the quinoa cooks.
  • Fold in the quinoa, add more lemon juice or olive oil if necessary, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Note:  If you want this to keep in the fridge for a few days, consider using roasted garlic rather than raw.


  1. Where does one find asparagus this time of year?

  2. Oddly enough, it's all over the market place here in Montreal. I like to go for seasonal and local, but sometimes I go for on sale - like when a bunch of asparagus (from Peru) is a buck. We also still have some around that's coming in from Ontario at 3.50 a bunch, greenhouses perhaps?