foodgeek's diary


Quick Quinoa Pilaf

Posted by foodgeek on December 6, 2011 at 2:05 PM

This is a quick post of a quick side/appetizer that I quickly whipped up using ingredients on hand for a potluck Christmas party. I got a couple of requests for the recipe at the party so I figured, why not put it on the blog!


The reason this is a quick recipe is because everything I do lately, cooking or otherwise, has to be quick due to lack of time. Life with my 3 year old, Grace, has become much more hectic since we brought her home from China a year ago. I cannot believe it has been that long. Time flies when you're having fun! And fun it is, albeit hectic and chaotic, life is so much more fun these days with Grace, the love of me and my hubbab's life. I could go on and on about that but let's focus back to the subject here - my quick quinoa pilaf recipe.


But first, here's a pic of my little jujube enjoying her bowl of quinoa, bless her little heart.


I am not a big fan of quinoa myself. At least not by itself. The hubby likes. The wee one likes it. I am just so-so on it. I can't pin-point what it is I don't particularly like about it. It's similar to couscous, and I love couscous. But quinoa? I can take it or leave it. But the hubby likes it so much, the bargain fiend that he is bought a boat load of it when it went on sale at Henry's (now called Sprout's).


Hoping to make a little more space in the pantry by making as much of the quinoa as I could, I have pretty much mastered the proper way to cook quinoa just right to make it nice and fluffy, not mushy.


To give you a quick (there's that word again!) background on quinoa, I looked it up on my favorite reference website, wikipedia. Quinoa is "a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds". It originates from the "Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru." It is known for its high protein content.


Quinoa is cooked much like rice, and is best cooked with less water than what a lot of recipes I have found call for. I use a ratio of 1 3/4 cup of water to 2 cups of quinoa. I usually add about a teaspoon of olive oil to it and about a quarter teaspoon of salt. Be sure to rince the seeds thoroughly prior to cooking to remove the bitter exterior coating. I simply use a fine mesh sieve and run cold water over the seeds until the water runs clear.


The easiest way to cook quinoa is by using a rice cooker. Simply put the rinsed quinoa, water, olive oil and salt into the rice cooker, and set to cook. If you don't have a rice cooker, you can cook it over a stove over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is transparent and tender, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let it stand off the heat covered for about 10 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork. 


To make the pilaf, I first sauteed minced onion, garlic, thyme and about a teaspoon of sugar in some melted butter until the onion is softened and slightly caramelized. I then mixed in the quinoa until heated through, then added some cranberries, raisins and toasted pecans. It is as simple as that.


This recipe, or concoction as I like to call it, is versatile enough that you can add just about anything to it, such as dates, apples, currants, chopped dried apricots, slivered almonds, etc., etc., etc. This could even be made into a main dish by putting in some mushrooms, some veggies, cooked ground beef, chicken, chickpeas. I am brainstorming here as I write, can you tell?

If you make this recipe, come back and let me know your own concoction.

Categories: Quick, Sides

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