Quinoa Pilaf

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This pilaf dish is similar to the more familiar pilaf made with rice, but the quinoa, almonds, and hemp hearts combine to make this version a high-protein vegetarian main dish. Serve with your favorite seasonal vegetable medley.

Quinoa, is considered a gluten free grain, though really it is a seed or a pseudo-grain. It is available in several varieties and colours (red,  white, and black) with comparable flavours and nutritional values.

Yield: 6 servings

1 cup (250 mL) quinoa
1½ cups (375 mL) vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 green chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Zest from 1 orange
½ cup (125 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped parsley
½ cup (125 mL) toasted slivered almonds
¼ cup (60 mL) hemp hearts (optional)

Put the quinoa in a saucepan and dry roast over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it is toasted evenly, about 1 minute. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes until tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the carrot and chili and cook gently until the carrot is tender but still crisp, and then stir in the cooked quinoa and cranberries. Add the orange zest and juice and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the parsley, almonds, and hemp hearts, if using.

Tip: This recipe can be made ahead and reheated in a covered casserole at 300°F (150°C) for about 20 minutes, or until heated through.

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