This recipe is inspired by a dish that I used to make years ago. It's based on a rice dish that is somewhat like risotto which I converted to a baked rice recipe. I'm not eating much rice anymore, especially the white rice that this recipe calls for. But Dave has fondly recalled Green Rice many times and fairly recently, so when I had the convergence of a big bag of quinoa, yet another harvest of spinach, loads of spring onions that needed to be thinned out of the onion patch, and a big bunch of bolting cilantro this dish popped into my head. I weighed the greens as I went and rounded to the closest whole amount for the recipe, the volume measurement is what the recipe called for but I just eyeballed it. Really, the precise amount is not important, use more or less depending on what you have or what you like.
Quinoa is one of the few vegetable sources of complete protein, it has all nine essential amino acids. It's a pseudograin, meaning it's a seed that is used like a grain but technically true grains come from grasses (monocots) and quinoa comes from a broadleaf plant (dicot). But healthy eating aside, quinoa is delicious and I think it outdoes its refined polished cousin rice in this dish.
To convert it to a rice dish just substitute a like amount of white rice but increase the baking time, it may take about 45 minutes. The original recipe called for parsley instead of cilantro, substitute a like amount of parsley for the cilantro.
2 tablespoons olive oil (about 30 ml.)
4 tablespoons butter (about 55 g.)
4 oz./115 g. minced scallions or spring onions (about 1 cup)
2 oz./55g. minced cilantro (about 1 cup)
8 oz./225 g. finely chopped spinach (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ½ cups quinoa (9 oz./255 g.)
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ cups hot chicken stock (.35 liter)
Crescenza cheese (aka Stracchino), or Parmigiano
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 1 ½ to 2 quart size casserole. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and set aside. Heat the olive oil and the other 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Saute the scallions until they soften, stir in the cilantro and then the spinach, stir until the spinach wilts. Add the quinoa, salt, and black pepper to taste, stir to incorporate into the greens. Turn the quinoa and greens mixture into the casserole, add the hot stock, drizzle with the melted butter. Cover the casserole and place it in the hot oven. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the stock and is tender.
Serve hot with thin slices of the cheese placed on top, it should get melty from the heat of the hot pilaf, if not, run it under the broiler briefly. Serve immediately.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Note: Crescenza is an oozy soft ripened cow's milk cheese that doesn’t have a rind. A generous dusting of Parmigiano would be good instead, that's what is called for in the rice version.
About This Blog
This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.
Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...
Thank you and enjoy!