Black quinoa w/garlic scapes and lettuce/hazelnut/sage pesto

Black quinoa & lettuce pesto

The mulberries are ripening, and all the mulberry trees along the canal are dropping their fat purple berries. I find this oddly inspiring! It makes me want to write stories and draw pictures. I can’t quite explain the connection – maybe it’s just fruitful and springlike. One year, under the spell of mulberry-inspiration, I wrote a story called Meet the Mulberry Ducks. It was about young ducks that live along the towpath and eat mulberries. They laze around in the cool water, or on the warm dusty towpath, and wait for the berries to fall. They have purple poop. One day, two crows come along and laugh at them for waiting for the berries to fall. They show them a way they can shake the berries off the tree. The ducks follow their advice, and they eat so many berries they get stomachaches. Then they resolve, in future, to wait for the berries to fall. That’s it!! That’s the whole story. I was thinking about it the other day, as I rode over some plump mulberries on my bike, and it’s really a fable that encourages underachievement. And I felt a little bad about that – but not too bad. And I thought about how Malcolm asked me the other day what “ambitious” meant. I told him it meant trying really hard to be good at something, and to succeed doing it. But a big part of my brain was thinking about how it has negative connotations. I was thinking about Macbeth and Iago and their O’erweening ambition. I didn’t tell Malcolm that, though. I want him to be passionate about things, and try really hard to be good at something, and to succeed. But not to eat so many berries that he gets a bellyache!!

He’s more likely to eat too much quinoa, however. He loved this!! He said the quinoa tasted like Guisseppe’s pizza (that’s the place on the corner). He took seconds, and piled a big mound on his plate, with lettuce pesto on top of it, and scooped it up with bread. That’s my boy!! I cooked the quinoa for much longer than it needed to be cooked. For over an hour, probably, all told. I let it absorb all the broth, and then I liked how it got a creamy, pudding-like consistency, so I stirred in some butter and honey. It was still a little crunchy, though, cause it’s black quinoa, and that’s how it is. David just pointed out that our oven has a convection roast option, and I was eager to try it, so I cut up some potatoes and mushrooms in big chunks, tossed them with olive oil, tossed the potatoes with rosemary and the mushrooms with sage, and roasted them up. Very nice! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. So we had them with lovely lettuce/sage/hazelnut mozzarella pesto. I used the spicy-sweet red leaf lettuce from the farm, and the mozzarella made everything get a little melty when it met the hot potatoes and mushrooms. A simple meal, but a good one!!

Here’s Take Back Your Duck by The Inspirations, one of my all time favorite songs. This duck is too skinny. Obviously, she should have been eating more mulberries!

3/4 cup black quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 T olive oil
4 scallions, washed and chopped, white parts mostly
1 garlic scape, chopped (or one clove garlic, minced)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 T butter
2 t honey
salt & plenty of pepper

Rinse the quinoa in a few changes of water. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic scapes and scallions, and cook till they’re just starting to soften and brown. You can add herbs at this point, if you like. I didn’t because I was serving it with the flavorful pesto.

Add the quinoa, stir to coat, cook for a few minutes. Then add the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Then remove the lid, and simmer for about another 45 minutes, till the broth is mostly absorbed, and the quinoa seems thick and creamy. Add the butter, honey and plenty of salt and pepper.


1/2 cup hazelnuts – toasted
1 clove garlic – toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
5 or 6 big fresh sage leaves
1 cup red leaf lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/3 cup olive oil
2 t balsamic
salt & plenty of pepper

Combine the hazelnuts, garlic and herbs in a blender or processor. Mix to be a chunky paste. Add the lettuce, cheese, olive oil and balsamic, and blend till smooth. Add enough water that you can make it as thin and smooth as you like it. (Up to 1/2 cup!) season with salt and pepper and serve.


1 thought on “Black quinoa w/garlic scapes and lettuce/hazelnut/sage pesto

  1. Pingback: Black quinoa-chickpea kofta in creamy cashew-lettuce sauce | Out of the Ordinary

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