With its nutty flavor and pops of sweet from the carrots and peas, this Quinoa Pilaf is a great side for poultry or pork. With one simple change in the flavor of stock used, this pilaf works equally well as an accompaniment for beef.
I mentioned in my last post that I had been craving quinoa while I was ill and that just as soon as I was feeling better, I would do a post on said quinoa. This is now that post.
That was an extraordinarily boring intro.
But, hey, here is something full of all kinds of excitement—I actually left the house Friday night and went to a store for the first time in almost 3 weeks. That’s just pure craziness, not being able to leave the house and not even caring. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere Friday night either were it not for the fact that I SERIOUSLY wanted a Marie Callendar’s razzleberry pie. You know—the kind in the freezer section at the grocery store.
I had asked the powers-that-be if they would pick one up for me on one their TWO trips out to the grocery store earlier in the day, but they forgot. I had to have my pie. I had been thinking about it all week; the perfect dessert following a big ol’ bowl of quinoa. Finally, last Friday night I couldn’t stand it any longer and talked my man into driving me to the store.
Before you get all “oh my gosh, she has to have her husband drive her places, he must be a control freak” there are two things you need to know: 1) I didn’t trust myself driving quite yet, and 2) I didn’t want to go to the store alone at night. I mean, I am drop dead sexy hot, especially after being sick for three weeks, and it was Friday night and some 70 year old man might give me “the look”. I just didn’t want to deal with that sort of thing, so I asked my hunka hunka burning love to go with me.
Actually, now that I think about it, I haven’t gotten “the look” in a few years. Uh oh. I’ve done gone and lost all my charms. Whew! That’s a relief!
Next to Lentil, Quinoa and Orzo Salad, pilaf-style is my favorite way to eat quinoa. I love the texture of quinoa, especially the little ‘pop’ that happens while chewing.
I’ve found through trial and error that quinoa is best cooked with less liquid than the 2:1 ratio which is generally recommended. I like to use between 1 ½ and 1 ¾ parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. A higher ratio produces a softer, almost mushy texture, whereas the lower liquid to grain ratio causes the quinoa to have a little more resistance when eaten. A sort of ‘al-dente’ texture, which seems to work well for this tiny grain.
Quinoa comes in several different color varieties, white/cream, red and black. Overall, I have come to prefer the red. My very favorite, though, is a mixture of the different colors and varieties. Each has a subtly different flavor and texture, with the white being the softest and most generic and the red or black having the most personality. No matter which color you decide to use, be sure to give this grain a good rinse in a fine meshed sieve under cool, running water. Quinoa has a natural coating, saponin, which makes it bitter if not rinsed. The coating deters predators and mankind alike, so rub the grain with your hand(s) to help remove the coating while rinsing under the cool water. It makes for a good symbiotic relationship, which can be explained in a lengthy treatise, but not today.
If you’ve ever wondered about how to use quinoa, think of it as a superstar replacement for rice. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is a complete protein. In other words, it has all 9 amino acids which are required by the body to be able to build proteins. Believe it or not, the human body can’t use any less than the full 9 to make a protein and guess what you are made of? Yes! Good for you; you got it right. Proteins! I could go on for several more paragraphs giving you the ins and outs of protein building blocks, but you probably wouldn’t bother to read it. Am I right or am I right?
Let’s move on to the Quinoa Pilaf. This is a very simple, but very flavorful dish. I used diced carrots, minced onions and minced fresh garlic cloves, all sautéed in a little butter for the pilaf add-ins. The raw quinoa was then added to the vegetables and everything was cooked in a salt-free chicken stock. I added salt, to taste; no other herbs or seasonings.
As a last minute addition, I stirred in some defrosted frozen peas. You know what I mean—previously frozen peas that had been defrosted. The heat from the cooked pilaf will warm the peas. Don’t cook the peas with the pilaf because they will get over-cooked, turn mushy, and will end up an undesirable olive green color. Then again, perhaps you may prefer them that way. If so, then toss them in with the quinoa prior to cooking…Okay, wait. I sorta lied. I actually warmed the peas in the microwave prior to adding them to the pilaf because I was originally going to use them as a side for the dinner. Once everything was on my plate, I realized that the peas worked great in the pilaf, so I ended up mixing everything together, except for the meatloaf which really needed its very own place on my plate. Or something like that.
Side note: How many times have I used the words “quinoa” and “pilaf” in this post? Do you think that Google will punish me for using the same words too many times in one post and put this post last in Google searches for Quinoa Pilaf? Did you know that Google does stuff like that? Do I care? Yes, actually, I do care. A little bit; but not enough to change this post.
If you really wanted to make this a full, one dish meal, you could throw in some shredded chicken and you’d be set. As a matter of fact, I’m wishing that I had done that myself. YUM! So, next time I’ll make this lovely creation with all of the previously mentioned ingredients plus chicken plus some chicken-y herbs like rosemary, sage and/or thyme.
Okay, I’ve said enough. Here’s the Quinoa Pilaf recipe.
For your quinoa reading pleasure:
- Bon Appetit: 5 Most Common Mistakes When Cooking Quinoa
- The Kitchn: What’s the Difference Between Red and White Quinoa? There are other great quinoa links on this page as well.
You may also like: