Red Quinoa and Mushroom Pilaf
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Can be frozen
Most people are familiar with quinoa, but have you tried red quinoa? It’s beautiful to behold, and keeps a delightfully firm texture when cooked, compared to the more common “pale” variety. Quinoa is an unusually complete plant-based protein source as it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. It’s gluten-free, and lower in carbohydrates than other whole grains, which makes it a great choice for anyone watching their carbohydrate intake. I usually cook quinoa with onions, carrots and celery (always sneaking in more vegetables whenever I can). Here, the addition of mushrooms, green peas and fresh parsley add nice color and texture contrasts and extra layers of flavors. This pilaf recipe works equally well as homey comfort food or a gourmet side dish. ~ Susan
1 cup of uncooked red quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil, butter or ghee
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup sliced mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake, maitake, chanterelle, etc.)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas or fresh green peas
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or seasoned salt (I love Herbamare) – more or less to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or scallions
Soak quinoa for few hours, covered in water, with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice added. Soaking in water removes saponins found on the surface of quinoa, while the addition of vinegar or lemon helps deactivate the phytates found in many whole grains (which can block mineral absorption in the intestines). Just put it in a bowl to soak in the morning before work, leave it on the counter, and at dinner time all you need to do is drain and rinse before cooking. Or, soak it overnight to use for breakfast.
Thaw baby green peas to room temperature or cook fresh green peas just until bright green and tender. Set aside.
Heat a medium sized soup pot over med-high heat. Add oil and onion and sautee onion until it is very lightly browned.
Add celery and carrot and sautee one minute more.
Add rinsed and drained quinoa to the pot along with 1 3/4 cups water and the salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and let cook 7-8 minutes.
Add mushrooms, stir to combine, cover and continue cooking on low for another 5 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
Stir in the peas along with the chopped parsley/scallions just before serving.
A perfect side dish for simply cooked chicken or tofu.
Try it topped with soft poached eggs! Divine.