We already know that quinoa makes for a more nutritious substitute for white rice, but did you know that it also works in other dishes that typically use rice? Whether you’re making fried rice, risotto, or pilaf, this versatile pseudocereal subs in like a champ, often outdoing rice at its own game.
I’ve been doing the usual chicken stock, onions, carrots and peas version of pilaf with quinoa for years, but recently I was cleaning out the cupboard in preparation for an extended trip when I came across some half-used ingredients that turned into this quinoa pilaf with dried apricots and almonds. Loaded with nutty toasted almond, savory quinoa seeds that pop like caviar, and sweet chewy apricots, this ain’t your grandma’s pilaf.
The contrast of the tart apricots and warm spices make this the perfect accompaniment to a smoked rack of lamb or some grilled chicken. You could also season some of your favorite protein before browning it and cooking it with the quinoa to turn this into a one-pot meal.
Quinoa Pilaf with Apricot and Almond
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.4 ounces (40 grams, about 1/2 cup) sliced almonds
- .25 ounces (7 grams, about 1 large clove) garlic, grated
- .25 ounces (7 grams) ginger, grated
- 4.4 ounces (125 grams, about 1/2 medium) onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2.8 ounces (80 grams, about 1/2 cup) dried apricots
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
- Add the olive oil and almonds to a frying pan and place over a medium flame. Fry the almonds until they're light beige in color.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and onions and saute until the onions are soft and starting to caramelize and the almonds are a golden brown.
- Add the curry powder and cinnamon and continue sauteing until the spices become fragrant.
- Add the quinoa saute to coat with oil.
- Add the vegetable stock and then cover with a lid, turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid, turn up the heat to medium and add the dried apricots. Continue cooking, stirring regularly to prevent burning until all the liquid has been absorbed (about another 5 minutes).
- Keep covered to keep warm or serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.