Quinoa is a grain that is perfect for a gluten free diet; however it’s very bland by itself. We had a very dear friend over for lunch this weekend and she is allergic to gluten, so I was determined to figure out a satisfying way to prepare quinoa. I ended up flavoring it with parsley and a medley of vegetables and seasonings such as corn, artichokes, eggplant, button mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, French green beans, capers, bell peppers and gorgonzola. This allows the quinoa to act as a palette for the other flavors.
I served it in a large bowl for brunch, but I also set some aside for something a little more special. I placed mounds of the quinoa on gluten free crackers. The result is a fancy, tasty and unique vegetarian, gluten free appetizer that everyone can enjoy.
1. Info for Vegetarian Quinoa Appetizers
- Cook Time: unavailable
- Total Time: unavailable
- Servings: 12
- Calories: unavailable
2. Ingredients for Vegetarian Quinoa Appetizers
- 1-½ cups quinoa
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 eggplant
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or regular salt)
- 1 jalapeño (optional), roasted, skinned, seeded, finely chopped
- juice of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- ½ (15.25-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
- ¼ cup haricots verts (French green beans), about a handful
- 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 8 button mushrooms
- ½ orange bell pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
- 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled
- 6 ounces artichoke hearts (frozen), diced
- 1 (6.6-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into pearl-sized pieces
- ½ teaspoon pink, green and black peppercorn medley, coarsely crushed
- 1 tablespoon nonpareil capers (see tips)
- 1 package gluten free crackers
- Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside.
- Wash the haricots verts. Blanch them for about 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water and transfer to an ice bath. Drain thoroughly of all water, then pat dry on a paper towel. Do not overcook the green beans; they should still be tender and crisp, not mushy, or you will have depleted all the healthy nutrients. Trim the ends of the beans. Cut the beans on the bias into ½” long pieces. Set aside.
- Wash the eggplant and pat it dry. Slice the unpeeled eggplant lengthwise in 5 pieces. Layer a tray on top of a cooling rack, then place the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for ½ hour. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with oil. Drizzle oil on the eggplant slices, then place them on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 4 minutes on each side). Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool, then dice into small cubes.
- For the parsley vinaigrette: In a blender, mix the roasted jalapeño, parsley, agave nectar, mustard, lemon juice and about 1/3 cup olive oil. Add more oil (about 1-½ tablespoons) if the blender does not flow smoothly. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized pan, combine the quinoa with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the quinoa) and keep stirring every now and then so that the quinoa does not stick to the bottom and sides of the pan. Stir to prevent the grains from sticking. You want to make sure the heat is on low. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
- This might take longer than the cooking instructions on the package but this way, the quinoa will be nice and tender. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let it cool completely. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slightly sauté the mushrooms until translucent. Season with salt then transfer to a platter. Add the artichoke pieces to the pan. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook until each side is brown (for about 3-4 minutes). Remove from the heat. Set aside.
- Assembly time: In a large serving bowl, combine the eggplant, mozzarella and quinoa. Add as much parsley vinaigrette as you want so the quinoa turns green. Add the beans, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, orange bell pepper, capers, mushrooms and artichokes. Stir well. Adjust seasoning. Add more salt (if necessary) and the medley of peppercorns.
- Plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
- Add gorgozonla to the quinoa. Mix well.
- Place the crakers on a serving platter. Spoon about ½ to 1 tablespoon of quinoa salad on each cracker.
- Serve at room temperature.
- Bon appétit!