Quinoa Parfaits

[christine sparkler]Hey everyone, it’s Christine with this week’s patriotic edition of Sweet-Tooth Friday!  Since it’s the fourth-of-July weekend, I thought we’d do something a little more festive with these quinoa and rhubarb striped parfaits.  You all have been good sports about including beans into desserts but this week I decided to lay off the legumes and bring in quinoa as our new dessert-worthy protein.  The rich and creamy quinoa pudding makes an awesome pair for the sweet and tart rhubarb sauce, and it’s all topped with the tang of sweetened Greek yogurt.  Your taste buds are gonna see fireworks!

Ok ok I confess, I was really hoping to make one of those obnoxious flag cakes with the blueberries and strawberries arranged just so.  But you know what happens when you oversleep and show up to the farmer’s market 15 minutes before closing?  All the delicious berries have been scooped up and the only thing left are rhubarb and beets.  I had to change my dessert idea with these slim pickings, but it seemed like a better option than the larger-than-life tasteless strawberries from the grocery store.

[quinoa ingredients photo]As a professional baker I really ought to have tasted rhubarb before (after all it’s known as the pie-plant) but this was my first.  It looks like a red stalk of celery, so I just cut a big hunk off and popped it in my mouth.  HOLY CANNOLI that’s a sour veggie!  After reading up on rhubarb, apparently that’s an obvious fact but I had no clue!  Also I learned that rhubarb is related to buckwheat but its leaves are poisonous.  Mine didn’t come with any leaves on it but just a heads up if you pick it on your own.  The good news is the stalk is full of vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and helps lower cholesterol.

Oh and remember those beets I mentioned?  They came in handy after all.  As I cooked down the rhubarb with the sweeteners, it wasn’t quite the shade of American-flag red that I wanted, so I put a couple of chunks of beet into my garlic press and squeezed over the pot.  Voila!  The color was perfect and the taste was undetectable.

For the “white stripes” in the parfait I had planned on making a brown rice pudding but then it dawned on me to give quinoa a shot.  Quinoa cooks a lot like rice and is gluten free, but as Erin mentioned in her post on Quinoa Stew, it’s not actually a grain but a seed.  It’s been mentioned before, but it’s so awesome that this tiny seed is a complete protein, packing in 24 grams per 1 cup (dry).  Quinoa is covered in saponin, nature’s bitter defense against the birds.  Wash the quinoa a couple of times to get the bitter taste off before cooking.

I flavored both the quinoa and rhubarb with a touch of rosewater.  Rosewater is used in Middle Eastern desserts like the candy Turkish delight and in Egyptian rice pudding.  Though not a standard all-American flavor, I thought the delicate floral taste lent a “softer” touch to both the heartiness of quinoa and the tartness of rhubarb.  Just like real perfume, use a light hand in applying this!  You don’t want it to taste like cosmetics, just to hint at the idea of roses.

[quinoa parfait photo]

Quinoa Parfait Recipe

Here’s what I came up with:

For the quinoa pudding:
2 cups plus 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbs coconut oil
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 tbs flaxseed, ground
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rosewater
half stick of cinnamon (or 1 tsp ground)
1/4 cup demerara sugar

For the rhubarb sauce:
3 long stalks of rhubarb, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tbs agave nectar
2 tbs demerara sugar (I like combining sweeteners to give more depth to the flavor, but you can use just agave nectar if you prefer)
2 tbs water
1/2 tsp rose water
1/2 a small beet, minced (optional)

For the topping:
3/4 cup Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tbs agave nectar

Combine all the rhubarb ingredients in a small saucepan.  Stir occasionally and cook uncovered with low heat until the rhubarb breaks down and sauce thickens, about 25 minutes.

In a separate pot, bring 2 cups of almond milk and the coconut oil to a boil.  Add the quinoa and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until tender.  (You’ll know it is done when it becomes more translucent and has a little white ‘tail’ that unravels).

Stir in the flax, salt, vanilla, rosewater, cinnamon and demerara sugar.  Cook uncovered for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup additional almond milk to achieve the consistency you like.

When the pudding and the rhubarb sauce are cool, carefully layer in 4 parfait glasses.  I actually was too liberal with my rhubarb sauce and ran out before I got to my fourth serving, so shoot for slightly thinner red stripes.  The glass should be mainly quinoa pudding with the sauce as an accent.

Top with sweetened yogurt and patriotic sprinkles!

These were really fabulous and a great way to be festive AND healthy!  They tasted good warm and would make a great brunch treat too.

I hope you have a great time celebrating the Fourth.  I’m going to a BBQ in my boyfriend’s hometown where his family lives on a sheep farm.  Don’t worry, they don’t slaughter them!  Speaking of which, if you are on the fence about eating lamb, check out this pic of me holding Baby Lilly and you’re sure to make up your mind!

[lamb photo]

Until next Sweet-Tooth Friday, stay sweet and full of independence!

xoxo Christine



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  1. I have recently started eating quinoa like it’s going out of style and here you post a recipe for quinoa pudding!! Love it!

  2. You ARE a genius girl! That looks AMAZING!
    .-= Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian)´s last blog ..Just Call Me Martha =-.

  3. Your healthy desserts are amazing creations! Enjoyed your writing as well. Can’t wait to see what you cook up next week!

  4. How CUTE is Lilly? She’s adorable…

    Love the parfait idea! I’m a huge fan of quinoa, and went through a spurt of eating it every morning for breakfast with honey and almonds for a while. I need to try this! 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..July 4th =-.

  5. This looks amazing! I want to try quinoa… I’ve never tasted it before. I didn’t know the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, but I do know that rhubarb is known for its purgative properties!

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