Monday, June 21, 2010

Quinoa Pilaf

I was in San Francisco last weekend, and took the time to eat at my favorite restaurant, Greens. You can't imagine how pleased I was to see Annie Sommerville, their longtime chef. I can't say that we actually met, you know the exchange of names thing, but I can say that I took the opportunity to let her know how much I enjoy her way with food. Truth be told, she has influenced my cooking style more than just about anyone else. It was at Greens that I first learned how to use flavorful spices for taste, and go easy on the oil. I may have grown my own garden veggies for years before I ever went to Greens, but it was also right at Greens that I first realized the importance of freshness to the overall taste of a dish. Greens restaurant sources many of their vegetables from Green Gulch Farms, an organic farm close to Muir Woods, and very near San Francisco. As it happened, I also drove by Green Gulch Farms, as I was on my way to a short trek through Muir Woods. So, it was an inspiration weekend for fresh cooking, with spices and aromatic vegetables to lend taste. Here's an inspiration for you, a new way with pilaf.

Here's a pilaf with quinoa. If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's easy to cook. It's got a somewhat nutty taste, so it works well paired with assertive vegetables. Here's my version.


1 cup water or chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
2 Tbs slivered almonds
2 Tbs minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


Bring water or stock to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and cook about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the onion, followed by the garlic, red pepper, celery, carrots, and almonds. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa to the vegetables, and stir in the parsley. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking. You might not need any salt at all if you used chicken stock that already has salt added.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: First of all, it's pronounced "keen-wa". Funny word, but as a grain, quinoa is surprisingly high in protein. It has more protein than any other grain. In addition, the quality of the protein in very good - it's similar to milk - and so it doesn't need to be mixed with other foods to make a "complete" protein.

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