Ricotta & Asparagus Quinoa

While we’re on island time, here it’s another Redux day! As I alluded to last week, the month of November was our time to focus on grains. Specifically, a “Whole New Grain” – an invitation to branch out side of the norm when recommending “whole wheat bread” or “oatmeal” to those who need more whole grains in their diet.

I have one favorite grain, and it goes by the name, Quinoa (keen-wah). It’s not new to me, or my recipe page, but it might be new to you.

There is a long list of things I had never tried before reading food blogs; some of them are welcome to stay out of my pantry, but quinoa not only tops that list, it’s also a staple & a favorite in this kitchen!

Reasons I love the grain, quinoa:

  • It’s high in protein! As a ‘pescetarian’ (strongly dislike that term, but I do eat fish, so there it is), this is a huge bonus for me. Our meals are rarely focused around protein, so anywhere that it does sneak in? I’ll take it!
  • I can cook it.Rice? Not so much. I almost always over or under estimate the amount of water needed. I feel like I should buy the long-cooking type, but have zero patience when I think “50 minutes to cook”.This simple grain takes 15-20 minutes, and the water ratio isn’t nearly as picky!
  • It is versatile! Much like any other “grain” – rice, included, I suppose – it can be used for so many different things. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, so it welcomes any seasonings, sauces, food-pairings and creativity.
  • One serving is packed with a nutrient punch:Iron, Fiber, Protein (~5g per 1/2 c cooked), Manganese, Magnesium, Copper & Phosphorus.Zero cholesterol, zero trans or saturated fat, and only 5mg (0% DV) of sodium.
  • It bears the Gluten-Free seal of approval, all on its own! This is of no real significance to me, but it opens up the options for some.

HOW TO COOK QUINOA: Place one cup of dry quinoa* (uncooked) + 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover & let simmer for ~15 minutes. Fork n’ fluff, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Yes, it’s done in 20 minutes flat. Perfection!

*Most people recommend rinsing it first.

A quick search displays the fact that this grain & I have a tasty friendship.

For this Redux, I did try two new things – cheese, mixed with red quinoa.

There appears to be no real difference between red vs “regular”, though I find the red slightly crunchier.

10.25.11 019 11.15.11 005

The tomato paste phenomenon was going on in the fridge (i.e. you open a can, need 1 Tbsp and then have the rest sit around forever), and in the continued effort to clean it out before our departure, my sanity had to use it up! Hence, we have:

Ricotta & Asparagus Quinoa
Makes ~4 servings, Prep time: 5 minutes    Total Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 cup Quinoa, dry
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Tomato paste (+/- 1 Tbsp)
Asparagus (I used one bunch), chopped into 1 in. pieces
1 tsp olive oil
Optional: tempeh (or other lean protein), shredded mozzarella, garlic
Seasonings: dried oregano, salt/pepper

11.15.11 009Cook quinoa as directed (see above!). Add in dried oregano plus a light shake of salt & pepper (optional).

In the meantime, heat the oven to 400* – lightly coat asparagus spears with oil & add minced garlic (optional). Bake for 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan (separate from the quinoa), combine ricotta and tomato paste a little bit at a time (I did ~1/2 – 1 Tbsp of paste per 1/4 cup of Ricotta). Stir slowly, and use low heat. The idea here is just to mix the two, cooking the paste down a little bit – be careful to avoid over-cooking and/or burning the cheese. Add a shake of salt & pepper, to taste.

Combine cooked quinoa, asparagus & ricotta mixture. Top with sautéed tempeh (or protein of choice) and a sprinkle of mozzarella!


This results in a creamy base, with crunch from the asparagus & tempeh. It’s a very easy meal to create and wow! Another thumbs-up approval from D, the tester, too.



Filed under about me

12 responses to “Ricotta & Asparagus Quinoa

  1. Oh man, this looks amazing. As a pescatarian myself (I loathe the term as well) I was thinking of a yummy meal for tonight with quinoa. Now, I know what I’m making after my run.

  2. I can completely relate to your rice cooking comment-I completely agree, quinoa is much harder to mess up! Your combination sounds really delicious too-definitely going on my list to make! Happy #reciperedux !!!

  3. What an interesting combo… wouldn’t have thought about the tomato/cheese combo, but I bet it’s great!

  4. I haven’t tried red quinoa yet, but I will buy some soon. I agree, I always seem to mess rice up, but quinoa is no sweat!

  5. The quinoa looks awesome! I haven’t tried it before, but I really want to – I’m loving the texture of millet, and this looks quite similar, but even better in terms of nutrients.

  6. I love quinoa! So versatile and makes for a healthy, filling meal.

  7. Looks like a meal I would create! Personally, I think ricotta cheese is highly underrated! It is so good!!

  8. shauna

    great recipe. only comment is to the storing of the tomato paste in its can. i used to do this all the time with canned pumpkin (use 1/4 cup for oatmeal, store the rest in the can in the fridge) until someone altered me to the (possible) dangers of storing canned items that way. i say possible because there are some who think that with all the processing now a days, food can be safely stored in its can after it’s been opened. that being said, there is something weird that goes on with food after it’s been exposed to air and then ‘fridgerated in its own can. my best bet: take it out of the and store it in a closed container. it’s a win-win!

    • Heather C

      Good thing to point out! We never store things in the can – whatever doesn’t get used goes straight into a tupperware-type container. 🙂

  9. This sounds delicious! AND: on the tomato paste issue, I recently discovered tomato paste in a tube (basically a giant paint tube with a screw-on cap) and it has changed my cooking life, in that I no longer make horrified faces upon finding mold on leftover tomato paste. Highly recommended.

  10. What a unique recipe – another win for quinoa!

  11. I love quinoa too and your cheesey idea looks great. Can you get tricolour quinoa in the US? I buy it here in Australia – red, black and white seeds?

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