Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quinoa Pilaf

I'm amazed every year how the change of seasons influences the change in my taste buds. Suddenly, I'm craving warm, comfort foods - hearty soups, pilafs with deep flavors, and many things roasted. This pilaf helps me welcome fall. It features earthy mushrooms, together with the last of the year's green onions, and a rainbow of colorful peppers. While I served this warm on a cool fall evening,  pilaf is equally good when served cold, or at room temperature. With ingredients that are usually available year round, this pilaf served cold could welcome summer as well as the hot version welcomes fall.


1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper
1/2 cup chopped orange pepper
1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs basil leaves, minced
2 Tbs Italian parsley, minced
2 green onions, sliced, both white and green parts
up to 1 tsp sea salt

Directions: Rinse the quinoa, then cover with the broth or water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the grain appears translucent. I used tri color quinoa, but any color quinoa will work. Cook the vegetables in a nonstick skillet while the quinoa cooks. Heat the teaspoon of garlic, then add the onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms, and cook until the onion becomes soft, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, along with the zest and half of the basil and parsley leaves and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with the lemon juice, olive oil, and green onions. Mix in the cooked quinoa, then taste and correct the seasoning with sea salt, if needed. Serve topped with the remaining basil and parsley leaves.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I love the combination of mushrooms, onions, and peppers. In this dish, I used three colors of peppers, but feel free to use any color pepper you have on hand. Peppers vary in sweetness, getting sweeter as they ripen. That means that the sweetest peppers are the red ones, followed by the orange, then the yellow, and finally the green peppers. Try them all, and find if you have a favorite. Don't like peppers? Another good combination for pilaf is onion, carrots, celery, and zucchini. Use 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup sliced celery, 1 cup chopped carrots, and 1/2 to 1 cup chopped zucchini.

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