Saturday, April 2, 2011

Girlchild's Quinoa with Pancetta & Peas

Anna likes to invent recipes – a hobby I whole-heartedly support!
Here's how it goes: She lists a bunch of ingredients and gives me a format (dessert, dinner, etc) and I have to turn it in to something edible.
While we were at the Disney World, we had the pleasure of attending the celebration dinner for their Magic of Healthy Living contest winners. It was pretty awesome to see the mighty power of Disney focused on helping families lead healthy lives. My kids were skeptical of the ultra healthy dinner that was served, but it got us talking about healthy food, which led to the following recipe:

"You take smashed up peanuts and some peas, and pancetta and add all that to quinoa, plus three tablespoons of chicken broth. And olive juice, honey and a squeeze of lemon. And then you add a little parmesan cheese, garlic and arugula."

Here's what we actually did:
Cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, then cover & simmer until liquid is almost completely absorbed. While there is still a bit of liquid, add about 1 cup of frozen peas.

Meanwhile, lay the pancetta out on a baking sheet. Broil until crisp, flipping each piece about halfway through the process. Total broil time is only about 4 minutes. Warning: never walk away from anything under the broiler! I usually grab a glass of wine and sit on the floor watching it, which the kids seem to find amusing.
broiling pancetta

Let the pancetta cool on the sheet, and grate about 1/4 cup of parmesan.
Mince a garlic clove and add to the juice of about 1/2 a lemon.

When the quinoa is done (liquid is about all absorbed), add the lemon juice & garlic and stir in. Turn heat off, and stir in parmesan. We then put that whole concoction in a bowl and crumbled the crisp pancetta over the top. I was afraid if we mixed it in, it would get soggy.
Crisp pancetta = awesome. Limp pancetta = meh.

You'll notice the peanuts, honey and olive juice didn't make it in to the recipe. The arugula kind of did, as we made my all-time favorite salad: Arugula with hearts of palm & shaved parmesan. The dressing is one clove of garlic, fleur de sel, fresh pepper, the other half of the lemon from earlier, emulsified with some fruity olive oil. Lemon juice + garlic + olive oil, as my dear friend Gwenn says, "emulsify like nobody's business."
 We served the quinoa and salad with some broiled mahi mahi and toasted Pugliese bread.
In fact, after we removed the pancetta from the baking sheet, I rubbed the bread around on the sheet and then toasted it. Mmmm. Pancetta drippings.

The Girlchild was very pleased about her recipe, and how the whole meal came together. I love cooking with her, and of course she ate everything because she helped make it. My kitchen ended up a bit messier than if I had just made dinner myself, but I wouldn't trade this time together for a cleaner kitchen, that's for sure.

Anna was more smitten than usual with the hearts of palm. In fact, she claims our next cooking adventure will be a "Hearts of Palm Custard!"
OK. I'm not sure what to do with that, but I'm sure we'll come up with something!

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some other fun perks. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.


  1. What a cool idea to let your daughter pick out what she wants to make. If I let my kids do this they would make pasta with parm cheese. And nothing else. Well, maybe a side of pizza pie.

  2. Hah! I know what you mean. My 3yo boy always wants "macaroni and cheese." It's a struggle to get them to eat healthy, but it certainly is easier if they're in the kitchen helping me make the food!
    One time I puréed peas and mixed them in with the mac & cheese sauce. Green mac... :)