Did you know that the United Nations has officially declared 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa”?
I love the versatility of quinoa. Don’t be put off by the hype, quinoa is a delicious seed that cooks like a grain, and well worth adding to your culinary repertoire. The pilaf is simple to cook and makes a hearty main meal or side dish. If you’ve been tempted to cook with quinoa but don’t know what to do with it, this is the perfect place to start!
(Two generous main serves, or a side dish for four)
1 tab vegetable oil (olive oil is fine)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup (or more) diced vegetables e.g. celery, carrot, zucchini
A handful of shitake mushrooms – if using dried shitake rehydrate in water for an hour and reserve the liquid
1.5 cups of well rinsed quinoa (any type will do)
2-3 cups of water or good quality vegetable stock/mushroom soaking water
Slivered almonds, toasted to serve
Sauté the onion in a large, heavy bottomed fry pan until transparent, then add garlic and vegetables. When they have softened a little, spread the quinoa in an even layer on top of the vegetables and pour on the stock/water until the quinoa is covered. Don’t stir! Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pan to a heat diffuser mat (if you don’t have one, adjust heat to lowest setting). Keep the lid on and cook on low for 25 minutes.
When the time is up, turn off the heat but leave covered while you dry roast the nuts.
Serve the pilaf garnished with the almond slivers.
Variations: I like to add a bit of salt to balance the sweetness of the vegetables. As an alternative to toasted almonds, try fried cubes of tempeh with a dash of tamari. Omnivores might enjoy it with poached or roast chicken or fish.
This dish is vegan and gluten free.