Contrary to what you might assume from the recent lack of posting, we have not dropped from the face of the Earth. I have merely been draped over the couch in my jammies with stacks of books, knitting needles and yarn, empty cookie plates and dirty dishes piling up around me.
I have spent the last month in a whirlwind of holiday cooking, baking, entertaining and recovering. We had many well-loved guests who took their coats off and stayed a while. In the middle of all our Yuletide visiting and camaraderie we had big Ty’s 7th birthday party. New Year’s Eve saw our house filled to capacity with more than 30 adults and kids ringing in not the New Year, but the beginning of Ty’s 8th year. Partay!
When the house cleared out and I considered all the candies, cakes, cookies, custards, chocolates, and rich savory foods I managed to inhale I realized my body was absolutely screaming for lean proteins, whole grains and veggieveggieveggies. It was all I could think about. But here’s the trouble. After all that lovely, rich deliciousness that is holiday/winter food, I couldn’t go cold turkey on the flavor. That meant whatever hit the table had to fit into both the healthy and tasty categories.
Broiled fish was a no-brainer. Sprinkled with Old Bay and drizzled with lemon juice that almost made itself. The side dishes presented something more of a challenge. Quinoa hoppd out of the pantry and said, “Cook me! I’m wonder food.” And when food talks, I listen.
This warm quinoa pilaf was hearty and delicious but didn’t weigh me down. The meal made me feel so energized that I skipped all the way to the treadmill. To get my sweater off of it. You didn’t really think I was going to say I exercised on it, did you?
Warm Quinoa Pilaf
Aside from the fact that it tastes just plain great, quinoa has quite a few other qualities to recommend it. Not the least of these is the fact that it is almost a complete food by itself. It is a whole grain and it packs a major, major nutritional punch. It’s versatile, too. Warm or cold, spicy or mild. It takes whatever you do to it and ends up delicious AND it can pretty much stand in for rice whenever called on to do so.
As usual, I am warning you that this recipe makes a very large quantity. I’m feeding a regiment here, folks… Feel free to halve or even quarter this. I’d do the math for you to reduce the recipe, but I’m still in a food coma.
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced onion (or more. Oh heck. Just put in more. Onions are fabulous.)
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced, whichever you prefer.
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Begin by washing your quinoa to remove the soapy tasting coating. Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer or sieve and hold under running cold water while rubbing the grains with your hands. It is clean when the water runs completely clear and no more bubbles show up on the quinoa.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil, stir in quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, drop heat to low and allow to simmer until most of the water is absorbed and quinoa “tails” have loosened from the center grain. This should take about 15 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, turn your attention to the vegetables. Add the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and carrots, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the works and stir to coat evenly. Gently cook the vegetables until they are crisp tender. Stir in the rice wine vinegar and the thyme and add to the warm, cooked quinoa. Adjust seasonings and enjoy! This is also great cold the next day as leftovers. And reheated to go with dinner again. I’m just saying…