I’ve wanted to try quinoa pasta for a long time and finally found it locally yesterday at Better Bulk in the east end in Toronto. I’ve been feeling under the weather lately and recently discovered that my iron levels are low, so I’ve been trying to eat lots of veggies and fruit that are high in iron and vitamin C.
And that’s what lead to me to cook up this awesome, flavorful dish.
I wanted to make something with the quinoa pasta that included a good protein, vitamin-rich vegetables and some citrus. Iron is better absorbed with the addition of vitamin C, and broccoli and spinach naturally have both. And I knew I wanted a lemon-ey kick and remembered that I had some leftover preserved lemon slices from this amazing salad that I made a few days ago (which by the way, is incredibly time consuming but fully worth it).
It came together beautifully. The quinoa pasta was delicious and even closer in texture to real pasta than rice pasta. The brand I bought, GoGo Quinoa, uses a blend of organic rice flour and quinoa flour. It’s gluten free and high in protein, fiber and iron. I was afraid that it might have that slightly bitter taste that quinoa usually has and that Neil hates, but it tasted clean and neutral which meant the ingredients in the dish really came through. Best of all, I didn’t feel disgustingly full and weighed down, like I normally do after a big bowl of regular pasta.
The preserved lemons are SO worth the effort. And to be honest, it didn’t take much effort at all. You can make a batch and throw them into all kinds of dishes. They kind of brighten up a dish, not just in appearance, but in flavor too. They’re packed with intense lemony goodness and almost explode in your mouth with every bite.
Have you guessed yet that quinoa is one of my favorite foods? I just love that it’s so good for you, so perfectly balanced, so versatile, and tastes great. Neil’s still on the fence, but I think he may be coming around… Or at least, the more I force feed it to him, the more he seems to enjoy it. Either way, there were no complaints with this delicious and healthful meal.
Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach, Shrimp and Preserved Lemon
1 large shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch broccoli cut into small pieces (including pieces of trunk, cut into rounds)
Big handfuls of fresh spinach
Fresh or frozen shrimp
Fresh lemon juice
‘Quick-Preserved’ lemon slices, chopped (*recipe below)
Parsley, chopped (Parsley is also high in Vitamin C and Iron, and a much needed ‘finisher’ to most pasta dishes anyway!)
Parmesan Cheese to grate on top
Quinoa Pasta, cooked al dente and drained, but with a bit of water still reserved.
Sauté shrimp in a large hot pan with a little bit of olive oil, until cooked through. Be careful not to over-cook them. Transfer them to a plate.
In the same pan, add a good amount of olive oil and sauté garlic and shallot for a few minutes. Add the broccoli and some chili flakes and sauté for a few more minutes. Add a bit of white wine to the pan and simmer off the alcohol. Add a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon) and the fresh spinach. Sautee until the spinach is wilted.
Add back in the cooked shrimp and mix. Add your cooked quinoa pasta right into the pan (it should be wet with a bit of the water it cooked in). Mix well and season with salt and pepper and a bit more lemon juice and/or olive oil, to taste. Mix in the chopped preserved lemon slices.
Plate the pasta in large bowls and top with a good amount of chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Quick-Preserved Lemon (from Epicurious/Bon Appetit)
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Mix lemon slices, lemon juice, and coarse sea salt in small skillet. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cool. Using a sharp knife, cut slices in half, then cut pulp away from peel; discard pulp.
If you make these ahead of using them and want to store them in the fridge, keep the liquid and store the lemon peel slices in the fridge in an airtight container covered in the liquid until you’re ready to use them. Before adding them to a dish, rinse the liquid off.