Diane is usually associated with meat of some sort, implying hunting season and fall mushrooms. So to back it up a few months and give it some spring tones, I used quinoa for its wonderful textural and protein qualities, and tossed in some asparagus, because what else says spring, and some diced red bell pepper for a color burst. Lemon and chive elevate the humble (and inexpensive) button mushroom to the brightness of spring.
I took a page from dienseebat's book and tossed the asparagus and red bell pepper into the quinoa towards the end of its steaming period. Brilliant; they both cook just enough to bring out their respective flavors and bright colors, and it saves a whole pan that needs washing!
And finally, I lightened the tradition Diane blend of cognac and cream by using white vermouth, lemon, and chives instead. —boulangere
- Serves 2, or 1 with leftover for lunch
quinoa of any color
chicken or vegetable stock
stalks nice thin spring asparagus, trimmed, bias cut 1/2 "
red bell pepper, small dice
Good fruity olive oil to generously film the bottom of the skillet or wok
medium shallot, small dice
button mushrooms, stems removed and saved for stock, gently wiped with a damp towel, 1/4" slice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea or kosher salt to taste
Fresh chives, snipped with scissors
- Measure quinoa of your choice (red would be very dramatic, though I used white) into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Bring stock to a boil, add quinoa, cover pot, reduce to a simmer, and set a timer for 10 minutes. When time is up, add asparagus and red pepper, and steam for 5 minutes. Remove from heat when time is up. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and put the lid back on the pot.
- Meanwhile, back at the mushroom venue, be sure to wipe the caps gently with a damp towel to clean, and save the stems for stock. I find them to be different enough in texture from the caps that I separate them. Generously film the bottom of a wide skillet or a wok with a nicely fruity olive oil. I know, olive oil is pressed in the fall, but work with me here. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallot and a pinch of salt to encourage it to shed its water rapidly. When just softened and fragrant, add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt. They want to shed their water quickly without overcooking. Salt has a great love of water, and heaven knows mushrooms contain a lot of it. When you can see that they've stopped shedding water into the bottom of the pan, add the white vermouth. Let it come to a good boil, then flame it off with a match or a fire starter. After flames subside, let liquid reduce by about half. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir in, and season to taste with sea or kosher salt to taste.
- Light a candle. Pour a glass of your favorite wine. If you love it, it will go with this dinner. Set place settings.
- Spoon some of the quinoa mixture into a bowl. Spoon some mushrooms over it. Snip some fresh chives over, pick up a fork, and savor the taste of spring.