fresh thyme

fresh thyme (or dried) adds its lemony-basil aroma to these gourmet mushrooms and the sweetness of the carrots and beets

Another recipe that can be made ahead for the holiday table. I love it when I can make dishes ahead to warm in the oven just before serving. Warm this dish, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years in the Andes and was called the “mother grain” by the Incas, who believed eating quinoa gave them superhuman powers. Easy-to-digest and gluten-free, quinoa is a super-grain when you look at its nutritional profile. Surprise, though, quinoa isn’t a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. Quinoa sprouts as it cooks, and the World Health Organization says quinoa’s protein equals that in milk.

serves 6  |   preheat oven to 325 degrees

1½ Lb mushrooms (ideally shiitakes & maitakes) 2 med carrots, sliced
2 med beets, diced 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp dried)
8 garlic cloves, smashed or pressed 1½ C yellow quinoa, uncooked
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp each black pepper & good salt
optional garnish: ½ C chopped parsley

While preheating, slice or tear mushrooms (slice shiitakes but tear maitakes).  (These medicinal mushrooms have health benefits that white button mushrooms don’t).

On a rimmed baking pan or any oven-proof large dish, combine mushrooms with carrots and beets. Add the thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and ¼ C extra virgin olive oil. Mix well so vegetables are slightly coated with olive oil. Spread in an even layer. Place in oven and roast for about 40 minutes. Mushrooms will be a little crisp around the edges and carrots and beets will be tender.

While vegetables roast, bring water to a boil in a small pot with a lid. Add 1 tsp salt and stir in quinoa. Turn heat down to lowest, cover pot and simmer quinoa 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

In a serving bowl, toss quinoa with an extra 2 Tbsp olive oil. Then mix in ½ the roasted vegetables. Top quinoa pilaf with remaining mushrooms, carrots and beets. Garnish with more thyme and or parsley. Left-overs hold well and travel to work or school easily.

Can you use another grain like kamut or spelt or rice? Yes. You’ll adjust cooking times accordingly. Can you open a can of Eden beans and heat those and top with veggies? Again, yes, yes, yes. Make this recipe your own.