Friday, September 4, 2009

Quinoa With Pesto and Browned Tofu

I've recently discovered and fallen in love with, a food blog based around natural and whole foods. Everyone should have it in their lives. Puts my blog to shame, but what can I say? I'm an amateur! The other night I made her "Heather's Quinoa" (, which was one of the most delicious dinners I've cooked in a while. It uses oven-roasted cherry tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes), which I never knew have such a strong, yummy taste when roasted (like sundried)! It's especially a great save for aging tomatoes that may have lost their firmness. It did take a while to prepare and cook (an hour and a half in total) and required quite a bit of multi-tasking (various appliances going at once), but in the end it was definitely worth it.

These are the proportions I used:
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 shallot, minced (I used a quarter of a yellow onion)
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups kale, finely chopped (I used the red-ribbed kale)
2 cups extra-firm nigari tofu, browned in a skillet a bit (I used an entire 14oz package)
1/3 cup pesto (see below)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes** (or chopped sun-dried tomatoes, but I used grape tomatoes)

In a big skillet or pot heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the kale and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pumpkin seeds. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes.

*Rinse about 2 cups quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and 4 cups water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

** To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt - pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.


1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
1 oz walnuts (but the recipe calls for: one small handful of raw pine nuts)
1 oz Parmesan-Regiano (but the recipe calls for: roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (but the recipe calls for a few tablespoons)

The recipe calls for a large mezzaluna for chopping, but I just used a food processor.

Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil "cake" - see the photo up above. Transfer the pesto "cake" to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake). Cover with a bit of olive oil, it doesn't take much, just a few tablespoons.

Serves 6

Calories (with my proportions)=365/serving