Quinoa Shells w/ Broccoli, Yogurt & Parmesan

I've always loved Decembers.  It's the month of winter break, mulled cider, cookies, parties, trees and lights!  It's busy-busy but even with all of the madness, there's a certain buzz in the air that doesn't exist outside of this time of year.   

When I lived in NYC, December always seemed so much more spirited than here in Los Angeles.  I guess that comes with weather.  I always came home for Christmas, often leaving in my down coat and earmuffs to arrive to palm trees and sunshine.  So even if us Angelenos get the short end of the spirit stick, it's always been a joy to spend time with family and friends by the Pacific!

My family has more or less kept the same holiday routine for years:

-- One day to put up the (Department 56) Christmas village
-- One day to put up the outdoor lights/ decorate the house
-- One day to get/decorate the tree (A future post will go up detailing my mom and   aunt's ornament obsession)
-- One night to celebrate Chanukah (we don't get eight)
-- One day of cookie making
-- Christmas eve at our house (I cook everything)
-- Christmas day at my aunt and uncle's house

What are some of your traditions?-

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Busy times require food like this.  This dish is healthy yet hardy, making it perfect fuel for impending running around circumstances.  Plus, it's never a good idea to rely on those green and red m&ms at the office.

quinoa and broccoli pasta.jpg

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. quinoa shells
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 7 tbsp. plain greek yogurt (I used 0%)
  • about ¾ cup grated parmesan (I used a microplane)

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
-Meanwhile, prep the broccoli by cutting florets into 1” pieces.  Peel the stem to remove fibrous skin and cut core into 1” pieces.
-Using the boiling water, blanch the florets for 30 seconds until bright green in color and set aside in an even layer on paper towels to let cool/drain.

-Using the same water, cook the pasta until al dente (about 1 minute before fully cooked).  *Before draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
-Strain and toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil and set aside.
-Wipe out the pot so you can use it again.

-Over medium heat, melt the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion, reduce heat to low and sweat until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook just until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds.
-Add the broccoli, salt, black pepper and greek yogurt and mix just until all ingredients are incorporated, about 30 seconds.

-Using a rubber spatula, transfer broccoli mixture (and its entirety!) plus 2/3 of the parmesan to a food processor or blender and blend in pulses. 
-Add the reserved pasta water as needed to create a sauce-like consistency.
-To serve: mix the sauce with pasta over medium heat until hot.  Top with parmesan.
-You can make the sauce ahead of time and mix with pasta as needed.

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