From Justin Yu of Oxheart, in Houston, Pat’s Pick for May 2012

1/4 pound of okame spinach or any other hearty leafed spinach, washed
2 teaspoons miso aioli (recipe below)
4 tablespoons quinoa (recipe below)
puffed wheatberry, to garnish (recipe below)
Sola Stella Olive Oil from Texas Olive Oil Co., to garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

For the quinoa
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 shallot, finely diced
3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 pinch kosher salt

Wash the quinoa and add to a pot with 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook until the quinoa is cooked through, but not mushy, about 9 minutes. Pull off the heat and cover with a lid. Let it stand for about five minutes, and drain off any excess liquid. In a small sauce pot, add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water and warm to dissolve. Add the diced shallot, and let it stand to cool. Dress the quinoa with the vinegar mixture to taste. The quinoa should be slightly acidic.

For the puffed wheatberry
1/4 cup wheatberries from Homestead Grist Mill

Boil the wheatberries with a large body of water in a violent, rolling boil for about 45 minutes. The grain should have an al dente bite to it but not be crunchy in the center. Dry the wheatberries overnight in a low-temperature oven. Fry the wheatberries in a neutral oil at about 415 degrees in small batches, about 20 seconds. Dry on a paper towel and season lightly with salt.

For the miso aioli
3 egg yolks
12 ounces grapeseed oil
1 clove confit garlic
1 tablespoons shiro miso
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor or with a whisk and a bowl, slowly emulsify the egg yolks and grapeseed oil to form a mayonnaise. Finely chop the clove of confit garlic, and add to the aioli along with the lemon juice, miso, salt, and pepper. Add the aioli to a whipped cream siphon and charge with one whip cream charger.

To complete the dish
In a steamer, steam the Okame spinach for about 30 to 45 seconds depending on the size of the leaf. Pull from the steamer right before the leaf starts to wilt. Foam the aioli onto the center of the plate and place a small pile of dressed quinoa on top of it. Dress and season the slightly wilted spinach with the Texas olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place around the pile of quinoa. Garnish the plate with the puffed wheatberry and a touch more of olive oil if you desire.