April 10, 2013

Sesame Quinoa with Asparagus and Mushrooms

One of the perks of being at home during the day is a hot lunch. Lunch is my favorite meal, the fog of the morning has worn off and the evening fatigue hasn't yet set in... perfect timing for a some good food. Of course there are plenty of days where I throw together a peanut butter and jelly, or hard boiled eggs and sliced avocado (and I'm sure with the nice weather these will be even more frequent), but at least a few times a week I like a little mid-day warmth in my belly.

It's still so early in the season that very little is actually growing around here. I'm already craving those spring flavors though, my mother has the best asparagus patch and I can't wait to go pilfer some stalks. In the meantime, the asparagus at the market is coming from California instead of Peru. That's certainly not local, but at least it's domestic- right? And most importantly $1.99/ lb... sold!

This is a simple, fast dish with some of my favorite flavors right now. It's perfect for lunch or a side dish, and- at least in our house- pleases the kid as much as the adults. I know not all children like mushrooms (my kid loves them- is that strange?).

Sesame Quinoa with Asparagus and Mushrooms: serves four as a light lunch or side (two and a half for dinner)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths
  • about 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 4 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tbs nutritional yeast or soy sauce
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs tahini (I substitute peanut butter often and it's still good)
  • toasted sesame seeds to top
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
Toast the sesame seeds in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes, I like to do a whole bunch at a time and keep them in a shaker for easy use.

Slice the garlic and grate the ginger.Trim and prep the asparagus and mushrooms. I don't use the mushroom stems in my dishes (too woody for me), but they're great to freeze and use to flavor stock.

Rinse the quinoa and combine with water in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 2 tbs toasted sesame oil with the nutritional yeast, honey, and tahini and whisk until well combined. 

Add the remaining 2 tbs sesame oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and stir until just beginning to brown, about a minute. Add the asparagus and stir for about two minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure that the garlic and ginger doesn't stick and burn. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute, stirring until the asparagus and mushrooms are cooked, about another four minutes. Add 1/4 c of the sauce and stir a minute or two until most of the liquid has cooked away.

Once the quinoa has finished cooking (you can set it aside if it finishes early, but mine tends to time out perfectly), return to low heat and add about 2/3 of the remaining liquid. Stir just until the liquid is absorbed.

Plate the quinoa, top with veggies, a drizzle of the reserved sauce, and a generous pinch of the sesame seeds. 

This is a satisfying lunch without feeling too heavy, best enjoyed with some fresh spring sunshine. Little Smith still is resisting using any utensils, but he is quite expert at picking up fistfuls of quinoa and these small sliced veggies are perfectly bight sized. It's a bit of a messy toddler lunch, but so yummy and effortless!


  1. Yum looks like a delicious and healthy meal! :)

  2. Oh gosh! I can't wait for the asparagus to come into season...this looks divine.

    I hope things are going well with you.

    Nina x

    1. Things are going swimmingly :) Thank you Nina.

  3. That looks so tasty! I love a good, hot lunch too. My kids won't go near mushrooms. Consider yourself lucky. :)

    1. Yes, I figured it wasn't too common for little ones to enjoy mushrooms- I think I was 20 before I came around to them :)

  4. Wow. Can I come over for lunch? ;-)

    And I am OH SO happy that those fruits and veggies from afar are soon-to-be all local and in-season. Farmers Market season is upon us!

    1. You should! And yes, FINALLY some fresh local foods are in their way, can't wait.

  5. Oh, this looks so good and healthy! I am a lunch person too. If only it weren't such a busy time of day for my family, I would cook more frequently!

    1. Yes, I'm sure having just the single kid makes mid-day cooking much much easier!

  6. All of this. I am crazy for asparagus, mushrooms and quinoa-- AND it has tahini. Consider it pinned to our recipe board & hugs to you for putting all my faves in to one dish!!

  7. This looks great - I could eat asparagus at every meal!


  8. this sounds SO GOOD! i will be making this for sure.

  9. Yummmm!! This sounds so tasty!

  10. You make the most amazing food. Asparagus is my favorite, but I only ever eat it roasted. Bookmarking this now and hoping I remember to make it sometime.

  11. This look delicious!!! My little one loves quinoa! I can't wait to make this new recipe for him.