Quinoa Pilaf with Ginger and Chiles


The same technique you use for rice works perfectly for other grains too.
TIME 30 to 40 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
1 medium fresh hot chile (like jalapeƱo), seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2¼ cups water or chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lime, quartered


Method
1 Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the scallion whites, the chile, and the ginger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

2 Add the quinoa and stir to coat with the oil. When the grains start popping and smelling toasted, 2 or 3 minutes later, add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily but gently, cover, and cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

3 Taste the quinoa for doneness; the grains should be tender and have little rings around the edges. If the grains are still hard, make sure there’s enough liquid to keep the bottom of the pan moist, adding a few tablespoons water if necessary, then cover, and check again in 2 or 3 minutes.

4 When the quinoa is ready, add the sesame oil and scallion greens, fluff with a fork, and taste and adjust the seasoning. Fluff again and serve immediately or at room temperature with the lime wedges.

Variations
  • Quinoa Pilaf with Caramelized Shallots Skip the scallions, ginger, and chile. Add 4 large sliced shallots to the hot oil in Step 1, lower the heat to medium, and cook until they soften and caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Continue with the recipe. In Step 4, stir in ½ cup chopped fresh parsley instead of the scallion greens.

Tips
  • Thankfully, this fantastic South American grain is now available in supermarkets. The small, delicate kernels have a subtle grassy flavor and cook up fluffy with a pleasant grittiness. And they are high in both protein and fiber.
  • Quinoa can taste bitter unless you rinse it well, so this is one case where I use a strainer. Run the grains under cool water for a minute or two, using your fingers to stir the kernels so the water circulates.

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