It’s Spring! We made it. As I write this post, it’s a balmy 21°F “feels like 17” outside, and yet, today is still better than yesterday’s “feels like -13.” Slowly but surely, right? It gives me hope that I’m at least starting to see more Spring-like produce popping up at our grocery stores—fresh peas, artichokes, fennel, daffodils (not edible, but so pretty), and asparagus. I love asparagus.
Quinoa bowls are a staple at our house, in part because they’re easy and also because they’re naturally higher in protein than other grain-based meals. I’m realizing now that I most recently shared a warm cauliflower and kale salad and that this recipe also uses kale. Hopefully you’re not totally sick of it? (kale is one of those veggies we never seem to tire of) For this recipe, I’ve mixed the kale with lots of asparagus, scallions, sliced almonds, and dried cranberries. However, what really elevates this meal is the unexpectedly crave-worthy dressing. It’s so simple, I can hardly call it a recipe. Instead of mixing everything ahead of time, all you need to do is add a squeeze of fresh orange, a pour of extra virgin olive oil, a generous drizzle of balsamic reduction, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper directly onto your bowl. It’s a super casual way to season your dish and let me tell you, you’ll want to keep that balsamic reduction handy because it makes this recipe.
If you’re not already familiar with balsamic reduction, it’s a sweet syrup but with that great vinegar tang. It’s created by taking balsamic vinegar and thickening and intensifying its flavor into a sauce. Lately we’ve been enjoying the Classic Balsamic Reduction from Alessi, which we like because it has two ingredients and is completely free of thickeners or fillers. I’ve noticed that a lot of other reductions rely on starches to make their products thicker, but Alessi’s is lighter, which makes it great for drizzling over everything from salads and grain bowls, to fruit and vegan cheese without being gloppy or heavy.
This Spring Asparagus & Baby Kale Quinoa Bowl is one of those meals that you quickly throw together for dinner, and it ends up surpassing your expectations so much that you want to make it again the next day. It takes only 20 minutes start to finish, generously serves two, and holds up really well for next-day lunches. Basically, we’re obsessed with this sweet, salty, tender, crunchy, and exceedingly easy quinoa bowl.
P.S. Alessi also makes vinegar reductions in different flavors, including a Coconut Balsamic Reduction, Raspberry Infused White Balsamic Reduction, and Chocolate Balsamic Reduction, among others. We’ve tried the coconut (delicious) and have plans to pick up a bottle of the chocolate next. I have a suspicion it will be strangely phenomenal on ice cream!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 small bunch asparagus (about 2 cups), ends trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups baby kale
- 1 scallion, sliced thin
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons Alessi Balsamic Reduction, divided
- orange wedges
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- In a small pot, add the quinoa, 2 cups water, and a couple pinches of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.
- While the quinoa cooks, blanch the asparagus: Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and let cook for 60 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the asparagus to the bowl of ice water. Cool completely, then place on a clean dish towel or paper towels to dry.
- In a large mixing bowl, gently toss the quinoa, baby kale, asparagus, sliced scallion, almonds, and dried cranberries. Divide between 2 bowls, then drizzle each bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction, and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Alessi. You can purchase Alessi Balsamic Reductions at your local grocery stores or browse other flavors and order online at AlessiFoods.com.