Veg, Raisin, Pepita Quinoa Pilaf

Toddler, Kid, Adult

They say you shouldn't cook with ingredients you can't pronounce but quinoa is a definite exception. Pronounced keen-wa, this seed is an ancient superfood that has fed the Incas of South America for centuries. This dish is inspired by my husband who loves the idea of quinoa but finds it boring and uninspiring plain. Wanting to integrate it into our family table, I enliven it in this spiced and healthy pilaf, a winner with toddler and dad, making me a very happy mummy. 

Science Corner
A spate of recent research suggests that plant-based diets can stave off a host of chronic diseases. We incorporate organic meat and wild caught fish into our diet to ensure sufficient vitamin B12, protein and other important nutrients but we also believe that an occasional meat-free meal rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients is just as important for our health. In these scenarios, I often turn to quinoa. It's a rare vegetarian source of complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids, .rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and manganese and bursting with fiber, anti-inflammatory compounds and anti-oxidants. I make a bit batch at the beginning of the week to use in this pilaf for a light lunch, salads, breakfast porridge and a rice substitute accompanying grandma's Goan Fish Curry that toddler adores. 

For the pilaf

1 cup quinoa rinsed well to remove the bitter coating of saponins
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon pepitas or pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
salt to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the sauce
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon Zataar spice (thyme, sesame, sumac, salt found in Middle Eastern markets or you can make your own! A lovely post and recipe here:
more salt to taste 
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Bring the quinoa with 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 10 minutes until the quinoa is dry and can be fluffed up with a fork. 

While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pot for which you have a lid on a medium flame. Saute the chopped shallot until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots, raisins, pepitas, cumin, coriander and salt and saute for 2 minutes to mix well and roast the veggies. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are softened to your liking, adding more water for additional steaming if necessary. Mix in 1 cup of the cooked quinoa. Save the rest for the week for salads, porridge and a healthy and nutty rice substitute. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and check the salt. 

For the sauce, mix all the ingredients well. Serve on top of the quinoa for a luxurious, creamy finish. Save extras for dipping with your favorite crusty bread or chopped veggies for a yummy, nutritious snack. 




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