Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa (pronounced keen wa) is one of my favorite "grains." Many people refer to it as the super grain because it is so packed full of nutrients. Truth be told it isn't a grain, it is a seed and a member of the spinach family. It is similar in size to couscous (sorry my picture really sucks, I had to use my camera phone b/c my camera isn't working properly), but it is a little chewier and much more nutritious because couscous is really just pasta. In the Lafayette/West Lafayette Area you can purchase quinoa at Meijer's, Sunspot Natural Market, and Nature's Pharm.

Quinoa is really easy to prepare, and cooks in only 15 minutes. I take my lunch with me to school nearly every day, quinoa pilaf is one of my favorite lunch options (usually along with some leftover chicken or a salad). Like the granola recipe I recently posted, it is really easy to personalize this dish. You can use whatever spices you like, and substitute other veggies and/or fruits. I use a fair amount of spices in this recipe, I always buy mine from ethnic stores, and so should you. You'll get a much better quality and price!

Quinoa Pilaf
1 Cup of uncooked Quinoa, rinsed*
2 Bay Leaves (optional)
1 Star Anise (optional - or try some allspice berries or cinnamon sticks!)
2 Cardamom pods (optional)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 Cup Apple Juice or Cider (or another cup of water)
1 Cup of Water
2 Medium carrots, diced
1/2 Cup diced dried apricots (dried cranberries or raisins would be great too!)

In a medium saucepan with a lid combine all of the ingredients except the apricots. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the bay leaves, anise, and cardamom. Stir in the apricots. I usually let mine chill overnight and take it for lunch the next day - it seems to let the flavors really intensify, but you could also enjoy it warm right after it's finished!

*Quinoa supposedly has a bitter coating, so you are supposed to rinse the seeds well before cooking them. Some packages say the quinoa has already been rinsed.

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