Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Today I am featuring quinoa as the medium for one of my favorite seasonal combos--dried cranberries and walnuts! This is a sweet and savory pilaf made with quinoa(pronounced "keen-wa"), an ancient heirloom grain that has been known in South America for centuries and is quickly gaining popularity here.

Famous for it's health benefits, quinoa is a powerhouse food that nourishes the body and provide many nutrients and minerals. It is the most common grain known in the U.S. that provides a complete protein (as opposed to combining grains with beans or veggies to achieve the complete protein), thus great for vegetarians. Quinoa contains no gluten and no known allergens, so it is popular with people on special diets or with special nutritional needs.

Sound too good to be true? You are probably thinking that it must taste awful, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Quinoa is a tiny, nutty, sweet grain with a great texture and slight chewiness which makes it popular with most who have tried it. It is sold in boxes or in bulk, much like rice. If you are wondering what to do with it or how to serve it, here is a great, seasonal recipe that is simple and can get your picky eaters on board!

Serve this with some roasted butternut squash or stuffed into a baked acorn squash. This would be an exciting substitute for plain old rice or potatoes, too. If you like pork, it would be a fantastic, gourmet accompaniment to organic pork chops or pork tenderloin roast. Maybe pour some riesling and you have a dinner party!

A few resources:

Below is a great close-up photo of the quinoa plant. Pretty!

Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

1 large onion, sliced medium thin
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
ground black pepper
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or stock, if you have some on hand
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 c walnuts, roughly chopped
1 lemon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a saute pan, cook onion with oil, salt, and pepper over medium heat for five minutes. Turn heat to low and cook, uncovered, 35-40 minutes, until translucent and caramelized.

Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Transfer wet quinoa into a 2-3 qt saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Add water or stock immediately when quinoa feels dry. Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil. As soon as it's boiling, cover and cook on low for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat without removing cover.

Distribute walnuts on a baking sheet and toast about 15 minutes. Watch them closely and toast until just fragrant.

Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork. Fold in caramelized onions, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts. Season with salt, pepper, and a few squirts of fresh lemon juice. Toss and serve!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I sure do love the quinoa... can't find it out here! Wanna mail some out? ;)

BTW - still interested in moving to WordPress? Sooo much better than blogger... lemme know.