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Spiced Lemon Quinoa

Serves 4 (makes 4 cups) (serving size: 1 cup)

Total Time
40 mins

Back home in South India, Sunset reader Kavita Aiyar's mom made traditional lemon rice scattered with channa dal (a yellow, lentil-like legume). At her home in Silicon Valley, Kavita cooks quinoa instead of rice and adds spinach or other greens, "basically California-izing it," she says. She suggests split peas instead of the dal because they're easier to find. You can serve the recipe as a side dish or a vegan entrée.

su-Spiced Lemon Quinoa

Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Robyn Valarik
 2 tablespoons yellow split peas
 5 teaspoons mild olive oil
 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
 5 fresh curry leaves (optional)*
 1 serrano chile, minced
 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
 1 1/2 qts. (5 oz.) loosely packed baby spinach
 1 cup red or white quinoa, cooked as package directs with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  About 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Step 1

Simmer split peas with 2 cups water in a small saucepan until just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry on a towel.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cover, and cook until they pop, 1 minute. Stir in cumin; cook a few seconds until sizzling, then stir in split peas, curry leaves, chile, turmeric, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until split peas start to turn light golden, 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl.

Step 3

Add spinach to frying pan, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain any liquid. Stir in quinoa, split-pea mixture, and 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice. Add more lemon juice and salt to taste. Scatter cilantro on top.

Step 4

*Find curry leaves at Indian markets.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Serves 4 (makes 4 cups) (serving size: 1 cup)

Amount Per Serving
Calories 254Calories from Fat 30
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8.6g14%

Saturated Fat 0.8g4%
Cholesterol 0.0mg0%
Sodium 548mg23%
Total Carbohydrate 38g13%

Dietary Fiber 5.7g23%
Protein 8.5g17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.