Sunday, December 19, 2010

Asparagus Quinoa with Spicy Butter

In lieu of traditional holiday foods focused on fattening you up, I decided to go light for dinner.  It’s not that I despise Christmas cookies, mashed potatoes, or dinner rolls.  It’s half the reason I love being home for the holidays.  I’m just trying to cut down the amount of waddling from the dinner table this season.  
Quinoa has been a health food mystery to grocery stores and home pantries alike.  What do you do with it? Is it a grain? Does it taste good? Is it filling? Truth is quinoa [pronounced keen-wa] is a grain-like crop harvested for its golden seeds.   When cooked, it has a fluffy texture much like couscous or rice.  The nutty flavor and snapping sensation you feel when you eat it makes it uniquely ‘quinoa’ to me.  It is gluten-free, high in protein, and goes with just about anything.  It is also a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.  It has been used cold in salads, hot in soups, as a side dish for dinner or even as breakfast porridge.  Tonight, I paired the quinoa with asparagus, chicken and a spicy butter.
Forget unsalted vs. salted butter –grocery stores should be advertising ‘spicy butter’.  Finally, a cream that carries a kick!  The heat comes from the hot sauce, obviously.  But it also comes from the puckering taste of vinegar and a pungent aroma of wine in the Dijon mustard.  The hearty, ‘green’ taste of asparagus goes well with the sour tinge of lemon juice and Dijon, and is rounded out by the creamy butter.  Pair with chicken or pork, and enjoy a lighter meal that still satisfies you beyond dinner.

Asparagus Quinoa with Spicy Butter
[Adapted from 101 Cookbooks]
4 T butter, room temperature
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
Tabasco Sauce/ Frank’s Hot Sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 T olive oil
1 bunch of Asparagus, cut into about 1 in pieces
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken

1.       In a bowl, cream first 5 ingredients to make the Spicy Butter.  Keep in fridge until ready to use.
2.       Prepare quinoa.  Keep warm.

3.       In a frying pan, sauté asparagus with olive oil until fork tender.

4.       Mix together the asparagus, quinoa, butter, and chicken.  Serve warm, with extra hot sauce if desired.  

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