Asparagus and Mushroom Quinoa

4th of July weekend, a couple of my dear friends came in from out of town and we got to see each other and hang out at a gorgeous rooftop beer garden in the Flatiron district. The food was amazing, and one of my friends had a dish that was sublime: asparagus, Maitake mushrooms, and peas, all served with a cheese and cream mixture that gave it just the right bit of oomph.

Don’t get excited: this is not that dish. But it is inspired by that dish, insofar as after that, I couldn’t stop thinking about asparagus and mushrooms. This is the season for asparagus, and I’m always a fan of mushrooms, but I’ve never actually put them together. But they work so well! The contrast of texture (crunchy asparagus, soft mushroom) and flavor (sweet asparagus, earthy mushroom) makes them wonderful partners.

So I decided to put them together. But once together, what then? I thought about trying to recreate the cheese-cream thing that they did (I think it was Pecorino with cream and herbs), but I wanted something else, something that would make these two veggies into a meal. Something to round out the flavors and give this whole thing a little weight to it.

And so I added quinoa, and I have to say I was thrilled with the result. The nuttiness of the quinoa added an extra layer to the dish, and it made a fantastic dinner for me one night. Not only that, but the following day I scooped some into a bowl and ate it cold for lunch, and it was just as good cold as it was warm. That’s what I call a win-win. As in, win at dinner, win again at lunch. 🙂

(By the way, remember my new year’s resolution to add more walnuts to my diet? Nikki at The Tolerant Vegan is helping me out: she posted an awesome walnut milk recipe earlier this week! If you’ve ever wanted to make your own nut milks, this is a great post that makes it look so easy!)

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