Need another zucchini recipe? Paired with lemon, parsley and mint, this Lemon and Zucchini Quinoa Pilaf is refreshing full of flavor and super easy to make!
Lemons are coveted and loved in my family. You see, my husband, is a lemon lover. He puts it in EVERYTHING, even eggs. His family loves sour foods. And two out of three of my kids, have followed suit.
Although, Middle-Child takes it to a new level, squeezing an entire lemon, fat lemon, into his soup. Even my husband cringes and admits it’s just too sour! So you can imagine, I have a lot of lemon recipes!
Lucky for us, we have a lemon tree. And living in San Diego, our little tree grows lemons all year long. Hello Limoncello! Now you can see the other reason why I have a lot of lemon recipes! This summer we grew zucchini in our garden, so I came up with this delicious side dish of lemon and zucchini quinoa.
How to cook quinoa
Quinoa has been on the food scene for awhile now, but when I first introduced it to friends and family I would get confused stares. What is quinoa? How do you cook it? What does it taste like? Is quinoa healthy for you? Well, let me try to answer some of these quinoa questions.
Quinoa is not a grain, but it is the edible starchy seed of a flowering plant in the amaranth family. Quinoa originates from the Andes in South America. Archaeologists have found evidence of quinoa dating back 5,200 to 7,000 years ago. Crazy, right?!
Although quinoa comes in assorted colors, the most common colors are white/tan, red and black. The different varieties of quinoa vary in texture and flavor. The white quinoa cooks the fastest. But don’t fret. The difference is only in a few minutes. Quinoa, no matter what color, still cooks up faster than rice.
Many people suggest rinsing quinoa off before cooking it to remove the bitter shell around it. But I don’t do this as the flavor nor the texture bothers me.
You cook quinoa like similarly to cooking rice. For every cup of quinoa, cook in 2 cups of water. To cook quinoa, I put the quinoa in the pot with the water and bring it to boil together. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook until the water is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Don’t add too much water, as it will turn mushy. I like to remove the lid from the pot when the water is absorbed and let the quinoa “dry out” in the hot pot a little and fluff it with a fork. I find this extra minute or two or air drying keeps the quinoa from turning mushy.
How to make zucchini quinoa
Since zucchini and quinoa are both foods that can turn to mush when over cooked, the key here is to, you guess it: don’t over cook it! I tried sautéing the zucchini before adding it to the cooked quinoa and I ended up with a bowl full of mush. Instead, I mixed in the raw shredded zucchini into the warm quinoa and let the heat of the quinoa soften the zucchini.
I prefer my vegetables on the undercooked side, and preferred how the texture turned out the second time around. I used fresh parsley and mint in this recipe and just love the fragrance they bring to this dish. And I always have plenty of both growing in my garden.
And of course, lemons! Both the grated zest and the juice of our beloved lemons makes this dish sing. It’s healthy and rich in protein, fiber and so many other wonderful vitamins and minerals. perfect for the summer zucchini you might have over growing in your garden!
- 2 cup water
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil and stir in quinoa.
- Return to boil, then cover pot and reduce heat to simmer.
- Continue simmering until quinoa is cooked, approximately 12-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, using a food processor with the grate-blade, shred zucchini.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded zucchini with remaining ingredients.
- Gently stir in the hot and steamy quinoa and mix well.
- Cover bowl with foil or a dish towel and allow the steam from the quinoa soften the zucchini.
- Pour into a serving bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.
To keep the quinoa from turning mushy, remove lid from pot when done cooking and allow it to sit in the hot and open pot to let the steam and any additional moisture evaporate.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 5g