Quinoa Pilaf with Garam Masala

When people ask me what I do in my “day job”, I tell them I cook a lot of quinoa and saute a ton of kale. These two superfoods are favorites among busy New Yorkers who need their food to multitask. Quinoa, in particular, is a powerhouse. It’s a complete source of protein, naturally gluten free and versatile, easily subbing for couscous or run-of-the-mill rice. I like using it as a base for an Indian-inspired pilaf with toasted spices, plump raisins and a little crunch from carrots and almonds. It’s delicious served warm or cold  and makes a great lunch or light dinner (throw in some chickpeas for a bit more staying power). Now, time to tackle that kale…

Quinoa Pilaf with Garam Masala

Makes about 4 cups cooked quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 small carrots, diced
1 teaspoon garam masala*
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup quinoa (I used a mix of red and white quinoa)
2 cups water or broth
1/4 cup golden raisins (or another type of dried fruit)
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped (or another type of nut)
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and carrots and sweat, about 5 minutes. Add the garam masala and tumeric and stir, toasting the spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa, a large pinch of salt and water (or broth). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed (use a fork to check). Remove from heat, add raisins and re-cover. After about 5 minutes, remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Gently fold in the toasted almonds and parsley. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

*Garam masala is an Indian spice blend. It can be found at spice shops (like Kalustyans) and at most large grocery stores (like Whole Foods). It’s simple to make your own. Combine 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Try tossing with veggies like sweet potatoes or cauliflower before roasting or as a spice rub for chicken, fish or pork. I’ve also been known to add a pinch to apple sauce.

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