Every week I make a big batch of quinoa, which I use for various meals throughout the week. I heat it up for breakfast (as a porridge with nut milk, coconut oil or ghee, maple syrup or stevia, toasted nuts and fruit) and it’s great to have on hand for quick lunches. I add it to salads to give bulk, use it as a bed for quickly sautéed fish, meat or vegetables, and sauté it into a “fried rice” concoction with whatever scraps are chilling in the crisper. While I’ve always been in the quinoa camp (it’s full of fun, happy people singing camp songs… j/k), James has recently become enamored. On the weekends he started usurping my lunches, sneaking bites when I wasn’t looking and commenting on how good they were, until I finally gave in and started making him lunch as well (pretty smart tactic on his part, eh?). No two quinoa bowls are alike, but they often involve sautéed or roasted vegetables, a quick dressing or sauce and a fried egg on top. This version was an instant hit last week for dinner.
I roasted up a bunch of asparagus and fennel, piled it over red quinoa, then whipped up a roasted red pepper sauce using jarred peppers, garlic, pine nuts and smoked paprika (I’m currently crushing on smoked paprika, using it in all my spice rubs, like this one for shrimp). The slightly smoky sauce was like a sexy red dress on the roasted vegetables, transforming them from everyday standards to center-stage stunners (and by the way, if you haven’t tried roasting fennel you absolutely must—it becomes super sweet and addicting).
A crispy fried egg on top was the coup de grace, giving the dish serious grunt cred (as in, umpf, this is damn tasty, umpf). Btw, Ella got a “deconstructed” version, with two fried eggs, a small mound of quinoa and sauce—according to her five-year-old sensibilities, foods must be separated—and some of the asparagus and fennel, which she admittedly took only tiny nibbles of (vegetables aren’t her thing, but here’s to hoping she’ll come around).
While the combination of ingredients is sure to change next week, the smoky red pepper sauce has become a mainstay. It’s actually more like the love child between a sauce, a pesto and a dressing (it’s probably good friends with those happy people singing camp songs referred to above). It would be awesome drizzled over grilled fish or chicken, slathered on paninis or spooned over your morning eggs. It also makes for a killer vinaigrette when thinned with a splash of sherry vinegar and a nice glug or two of olive oil. Don’t blame me if your vegetables start getting asked out on dates. Enjoy!
Roasted Fennel & Asparagus Quinoa Bowls with Fried Eggs & Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
- Cooked quinoa
- Roasted fennel*
- Roasted asparagus**
- Fried eggs
- Smoky Red Pepper Dressing (see recipe below)
- Dill fronds for serving
To make the quinoa bowls, divide quinoa between shallow serving bowls or plates. Top with roasted fennel and asparagus. Slide a fried egg on top. Drizzle with Smoky Red Pepper Dressing and garnish with dill fronds.
*To roast fennel, first cut off and discard the fennel fronds. Trim the bottom of the bulbs to remove any dark bits, then cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Cut each half into ½-inch thick wedges. Toss the wedges with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet, then arrange the wedges in a single layer. Roast in a 400˚F oven for 30-40 minutes, flipping the wedges halfway through, or until they’re browned and caramelized on each side. Once out of the oven, I like to bunch up the foil to create a sealed packet and let the fennel steam for 5-10 minutes. Do Ahead: Roasted fennel will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
**To roast asparagus, first trim and discard the woody ends of the asparagus stalks. Toss the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer and roast in a 400˚F oven for 10-20 minutes (depending on how thick your spears are), stirring halfway through, or until tender and lightly browned. Do Ahead: Roasted asparagus will keep for one day in the refrigerator.
Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup coarsely chopped jarred roasted red peppers
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Drop the garlic clove into a mini food processor with the blade running. Once the garlic is chopped, add the roasted red peppers, pine nuts and smoked paprika. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Do Ahead: The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.