For a yummy main course made from steamed quinoa and savory vegetables, you cannot beat this pilaf. It was featured on KUTV2 News at Noon, Thursday, January 5. To watch the clips, visit www.miraclepilltruths.com. Click In the News for this and other cooking segments.
Quinoa-Walnut Pilaf With Butternut
Squash & Caramelized Onions
*Quinoa is an ancient grain with a spiral shape and tiny kernels. It has a pleasant nutty flavor and cooks up similar to rice. Quinoa can be enjoyed hot as a side dish or in cold salads.
*Toast walnut halves by placing on a baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, until fragrant and beginning to brown.
*Use a standard potato peeler to remove the peel from butternut squash.
2 cups dry quinoa*
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, divided into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
1 large onion, cut into 1 inch dice
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup uncooked butternut squash, *peeled, cut into 1-inch dice
1 cup toasted walnut halves*, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
1 tablespoon dry ground ginger
1 cup tomato juice or V-8, vegetable stock or water
1 cup corn kernels, canned or frozen
1 (9-10 ounce) package prepared fresh spinach leaves
1 avocado, sliced
2 cups drained plain yogurt (preferably whole milk)* see method below
Cook quinoa in 4 cups salted water in a covered pot on the stovetop, or use a rice cooker. Quinoa should absorb all the water and still be firm.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and honey, and stir to coat with oil. Cook until onions begin to brown and take on a sweet caramel flavor (about 5 minutes). Add diced butternut squash, walnuts, and sage. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until squash begins to brown but is still firm (another 5 minutes). Add garlic, jalapenos, and ginger and cook for one more minute. Add more oil if pan seems dry. Add liquid and corn, and stir to incorporate any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called de-glazing the pan.
Stir cooked quinoa into vegetables. Season pilaf generously with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining one tablespoon of butter. Keep warm on low heat.
In a large pan, wilt spinach in the remaining teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Place a bed of spinach on each plate. Top with quinoa pilaf, avocado slices, and a dollop of thickened yogurt (or purchased sour cream). Serve. See Thickened Yogurt recipe below.
Why cook with yogurt instead of sour cream? Because it is lower in saturated fat and has a distinctly tangy-rich flavor. Yogurt is also creamier with a smoother mouth-feel than sour cream. If you are short on time, don’t bother draining it and just plop a spoonful over anything you would garnish with sour cream.
To thicken yogurt, set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to catch drips and drain whole or low fat yogurt in the refrigerator at least an hour and up to one day. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. Use in place of sour cream.