06 May 2010

Double Take: Vegetable-Quinoa Pilaf

This week’s Double Take is brought to you by the section “Meatless Mains.” I’m a little aggravated with this section. Why is chicken broth considered an acceptable ingredient in a section entitled “Meatless Mains?” I know that this particular dish is not labeled vegetarian, but you’d think in a section entitled “Meatless Mains” all the dishes would be labeled vegetarian. Grr.

I love quinoa, which is why I chose this recipe. I also haven’t cooked anything in almost a week, and I needed something fast and filling. This recipe easily works as a one-dish meal because you’ve got your protein (quinoa is a complete protein so it's great for vegetarians), fats, vegetables, fruit, and dairy all in one dish (we’re going on the my definition of fruit here: any plant part that encloses a seed, thus peppers count as fruit).

So colorful!

The most time consuming part of the recipe is dicing all of your veggies and fruits, but you can use this time as a learning experience to figure out how to get a small dice on a carrot in a pretty fashion. I didn’t, and so my carrots aren’t as pretty and small and uniform as they should be. But I’ll live. So, chop up some carrots, celery, leeks (um, excuse me SLC, but how big is a medium leek?), yellow bell pepper, and red bell pepper.

Proof that I actually measured things!

Rinse your quinoa according to the package. Well, my package was in German, but I’m getting pretty good at figuring out food words, and this package said nothing about rinsing the quinoa. Luckily, I’m just a quinoa newbie, not a quinoa virgin, so I knew to rinse it thoroughly with several changes of water, using your hands to agitate the grains/seeds as you rinse. Word from the wise: use a fine mesh strainer. These seeds are tiny and will go through all the holes in your fingers if you try to rinse it without the fine mesh strainer. And the seeds are awfully clingy. They love moisture, and will stick to anything that is wet, especially the sides of the pot and your fingers (though raw they didn’t cling to my wooden spoon).

Quinoa is a seed, so the white circle you see around each seed is the germ.

Cook your quinoa for 15 minutes at a simmer in chicken broth until all the moisture is absorbed. The quinoa will be 2-4 times larger than it was before you cooked it. Remove from heat and seat aside. Cook your veggies for a bit, then add some minced garlic and cook a minute longer. Combine your quinoa with your veggies, season with salt and pepper, and stir in some Parmesan. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Thoughts: I generally prefer quinoa with a vinaigrette, so I may skip this recipe altogether in the future (the acid in a vinaigrette just lightens it up a bit). But adding the Parmesan at the end made me realize this recipe is close to that of a risotto, so I may use quinoa instead of rice the next time I'm in the mood for risotto. I also don't care for bell peppers, so I'd sub poblano or roasted bells in the next time. And of course, it can easily be made vegetarian with vegetable broth. In the US, where I can't afford real Parmesan, I'd use romano or asiago to get a bit more flavor.

Make-with-roasted-bell-peppers-instead-of-fresh-or-turn-it-into-a-risotto: 1 vote
I-didn’t-try-it-b/c-I-was-having-surgery-when-you-tried-it: 1 vote

For another opinion, check out Tabitha’s opinion on Vegetable-Quinoa Pilaf at Double the Garlic

Sorry, but I ran out of the house this morning and forgot the parsley. So no plated shot!


  1. This seems like it needs some finely chopped broccoli as well! I would rather make it risotto instead of quinoa pilaf. You are definitely letting me know which recipes to try and which to avoid!

  2. Add the medium leek vagueness to my personal favorite (so far) 2 slices of ginger. When Cooked, yours looks similar to mine. However, the raw form I purchased looks more like small beads. Any thoughts on that? I'm with you on the desire for a flavor boost. The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook has 3 recipes using quinoa, I think. I'll let you know if they have more flavor. Thanks for getting me to try a new grain!

  3. @ Aunt Vicki: Broccoli sounds great!

    @ Tabs: It really needed some acid.

  4. It looks like it could also make a beautiful side dish!


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