An autumn rhythm is upon us here in beautiful South Carolina.  I love this time of year.  Crisp cool glorious days, sleeping with my window open with a few extra covers to keep me cozy, and watching as the leaves start doing their dance in the autumn wind.

I hope you enjoy this cozy dish that is a great alternative to those comfort foods we tend to reach for when the weather cools down. It will still give your tummy that warm and content feeling.

quinoa and veggiesIt’s also a meatless dish for all you vegetarians or vegans and all of you who are doing some meatless dinners during the week for better health.

Quinoa, pronounced (Keen-wah) is a powerhouse of nutrition.  It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  A perfect food for vegetarians.  It is also gluten free.

The great thing about quinoa is that it keeps you feeling full longer.  You can buy quinoa in your health food store ( I like to buy it in bulk when it’s on sale) and many supermarkets are starting to stock it as well.  I like to cook it in my rice cooker the same way I cook rice, its so easy that way.

Warm Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables

1 cup quinoa, well washed and drained
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, cut into half-moons
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
½ large golden beet, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
2½ cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425˚.
2. Combine quinoa, water, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil; then immediately reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15–20 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes; then fluff with fork.
3. While quinoa cooks, toss onion, celery, carrot, beet, and broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt to taste. Spread in single layer in baking dishes or on baking sheets. Roast in oven 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender.
4. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
5. Place quinoa and vegetables in a large bowl; add parsley. Stir dressing and pour over mixture; toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide among bowls and top with crumbled feta, if using.