This Warm Quinoa Salad with Sofrito combines quinoa with sofrito. Quinoa is one of the few grains that can boast being a complete protein. It’s a great addition to any vegetarian menu. Sofrito... is the great invention of Hispanic cooking. It adds flavor to just about anything. There is no hard and fast rule for what goes into a “sofrito”. As the seasons change, you can change up the vegetables and herbs you use, depending what is most fresh at the market. Onions, root vegetables, and aromatic dried herbs like thyme and rosemary in the winter, and soft summer vegetables and with fresh herbs, new garlic, or shallots in the summer. It’ll always be good!
Put the quinoa, parsley sprig, cilantro sprig, and scallion greens into a saucepan with a lid. Add the 4 cups of water and t teaspoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside, covered until you are ready to use it.
Meanwhile, make the sofrito. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and gently sauté for 2-3 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the peppers and zucchini, cook for another 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Add salt to taste, turn the heat down and partially cover. Continue to cook until the shallots have started to caramelize and the other vegetables are very soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the herbs and scallion greens from the quinoa. Fluff with a fork.
Remove the cover from the vegetables. Turn up to medium-high and add the ground cumin. Cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the chopped parsley, cilantro, scallions, and lemon zest. Stir to mix well and cook for a minute to blend the flavors. Add the quinoa, a little at a time until the dish is about ½ quinoa ½ vegetables. Stir to mix. Just before serving, add the torn basil or mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Be sure to wash the quinoa well before cooking as the grain has a bitter outer coating, saponin that needs to be washed off before cooking. You can make the quinoa and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days to have on hand as a side.