Quinoa with Spice-Roasted Shrimp and Pistou

This will sound like blasphemy to some of you, but I generally find quinoa boring. I’ve eaten it half a dozen times in very ho-hum salads and pilafs at newsroom potluck lunches. And I may have had it once at book club. Eating it is like patting yourself on the back. It’s SO nutritious. It’s not horrible, it’s just boring like a multi-vitamin.

That is, until this recipe came along:

In the current issue of Food & Wine there’s a recipe that will change how you feel about quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). If you’re lackluster about it, you’ll suddenly love it. If you love it already, you’ll realize you didn’t truly love it until now.

The nutty flavor of the quinoa is complemented by the herbal complexity of the pistou (that’s French for pesto). I’d never thought to put rosemary and basil together, and they go wonderfully mixed here with parsley, thyme and garlic.  The shrimp are marinated with a combination of garlic powder, fennel seeds, oregano, paprika, dried thyme and onion powder. Then they’re roasted. They’re so good I’m thinking about pairing them soon with pasta or couscous.

This makes for a delicious meal or a salad. Serve it warm or cold. Take it to work and eat it for lunch.

The only thing I’d change about this is the amount of pistou. It’s so delicious, I wanted (needed!) more.

Quinoa with Spice-Roasted Shrimp and Pistou
Food and Wine, September 2010

1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (packed) basil leaves
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
2 1/4 cups water

In a resealable plastic bag, toss the shrimp with the garlic and onion powders, paprika, oregano, fennel seeds, dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until coated. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°. In a food processor, pulse the basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme leaves, garlic and cheese. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season lightly with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; keep warm.

On a baking sheet, roast the shrimp for about 8 minutes, until curled and pink. Cut the shrimp into thirds and add to the quinoa with the pistou. Toss well, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 4


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