I am thoroughly convinced that some of my most delicious recipes come from randomly throwing together ingredients that sound good. This recipe is no exception.
My 'type A' personality will not allow me to go to the grocery store without a list in hand and all my recipes and ingredients planned out ahead of time. However, when I walk in the grocery store and am greeted by fresh asparagus on sale, there are times where I am able to suppress my 'type A' personality and throw caution to the wind.
That is how this recipe was born.
After tossing that fresh asparagus in the cart, I found some beautiful tomatoes that were ready to be used the same day and were marked down to next to nothing. I also knew I had some black olives in the fridge that needed to be used. Since my family is convinced they hate black olives I figured I could grind them up in the food processor. They would never know there were olives in there and it would add a delicious flavor. I also decided I wanted a protein in the sauce but wasn't in the mood for beans. I was curious if the quinoa would cook in the liquid of the tomatoes. It did, and the entire dish proved to be wonderful!
Quinoa Tomato Sauce with Black Olives, and Asparagus
1 pound whole wheat pasta, cooked until al dente
1 to 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup finely chopped black olives
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Himalayan pink sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1. To peel the tomatoes, remove the core and cut a small "X" in the bottom of the tomato. Dunk them quickly in boiling water for about 45 seconds. Remove them and quickly submerge them in ice water. The skins will remove easily.
2. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until they are a chunky puree.
3. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and turn on the heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. When the garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes and stir. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
4. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, add the quinoa and stir. Cover with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer and allow the quinoa to cook for about 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, remove the woody ends of the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into a small dice. Remove the lid and add the asparagus. Raise the heat a little and allow the asparagus to cook in the hot tomato sauce. Continue cooking until the asparagus is crisp tender.
6. Add the chopped olives and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper.
7. Serve over hot pasta and drizzle with more olive oil. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.