Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

IMG_3892The bounty of spring is upon us. Asparagus is everywhere and I have been embracing it.. smelly pee and all.  And along with all my spring veggies and smells,  I have grabbing for more springy spices. I go through seasonal spice kicks, like cinnamon and ginger in the fall, curries and chills in the winter. And for spring, I am big on sumac. If you haven't heard of it or tasted it, it kind of taste like a tangy salty lemon..without actually having any salt. And its a really pretty, a bright red, almost purple color. I use it on a lot of things, especially veggies and bean dishes, sometimes as a lemon replacer, but mostly to add another level of tangy flavor. It's fantastic, really great for all those springy time dishes. Nice and bright!

 This dish is perfect made and eaten right away, but it's one of those dishes that tastes even better the day after. Also it's good and safe to serve room temperature. (think lunch box or a picnic!) And did I mention healthy? Protein packed quinoa and the lean green asparagus, I mean come on. You won't feel an ounce of guilt for eating a hugmongo bowl of this stuff because you should, so it's totally ok.

Eat away! 

IMG_3824The stuff of the stuff. Quinoa and asparagus for the base. Sumac, lemon, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and a little splash of oil for the dressing. 

Note. Sumac is not always the easiest spice to find. I know that its available online (what isn't) and that some health food store or herbal apothecaries carry it, but i have ye tot see it at a conventional supermarket. And once you find it, buy a good amount cause you will also fall in love with it and use it on everything. 

IMG_3836     IMG_3839Start by making the dressing. You want to have it sit for at least 10 minutes. It will be perfect by the time the quinoa is done. Mince the garlic, dice the onion and juice the lemon. Stick it all into a jar with the sumac, a pinch of salt and pepper and about a teaspoons worth of olive oil. Stick a lid on the jar and shake shake shake. and let it sit.

Now you should make the quinoa.. Water and quinoa go into pot, high heat until boiling,  topped with a lid and set to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

IMG_3866When the quinoa is simmering, cook up the asparagus. Add a drizzle of oil, to a pan and a few splashes of water. Place trimmed and chopped asparagus to pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until cooked but still has a nice crunch to it. Take off heat and add the dressing to pan.  Let it sit and marinate for a few minutes.IMG_3869When the quinoa is tender, fluff with a fork and add to the skillet with the asparagus and dressing. Toss around to make sure all the quinoa gets dressed. Take a taste.. does it need a little salt and pepper? Add a pinch if it does.IMG_3871Pile into a bowl, add a bit of cracked pepper.. and eat.

Or… Idea! Make this dish and pack it into a jar. Maybe grab a baguette and some hummus os some other  tasty foods and take yourself and a friend out for a picnic. 

So much good .

Keep it real yo


Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

serves 3-4  as a side dish or 2 as a main meal. 

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 asparagus 
  • olive oil

For the Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 jumbo lemon or 2 small lemons
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Start but making the dressing. Mince the garlic and finely dice the onion. Place in a  jar with the sumac, the juice of the lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a little splash of oil. Top the jar and shake the crap out of it for a minute. Let sit and meld. (This dressing can be made ahead of time and is fantastic on all sorts of everything)

In a large pot, add water, quinoa and a spindle of salt. Bring to a boil, cover , and reduce heat to simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until water has completely absorbed.  When the quinoa gets going, trim the woody parts of the asparagus and chop the remain asparagus into inch long pieces. Toss into a lightly oiled skillet with a few splashes of water, sprinkle with salt and put on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked, but still crispy. Take off heat and add the sumac dressing. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and toss it with the sumac dressed asparagus. Scoop into a bowl, add some cracked pepper. Bring food to face and eat. 

Any leftover? This dish is fantastic serves cold or at room temperature.