Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf

I first made this pilaf with chef Rebecca Katz , author of the “Cancer Fighting Kitchen”, during a cooking class  of hers I attended last February at the Draegers Cooking School.  The photo above  was taken at that class. The pilaf was served with orange citrus chicken and kale with sweet potato.

I was only recently introduced to quinoa a few years ago,  and this is my favorite  recipe.  Quinoa is a really great source of protein, as that  it is a “complete” protein, containing all the essential amino acids we need to get through our diet.

I love Middle Eastern and Northern Africa flavor profiles, and they  work especially well with quinoa. This dish would be a great side to my North African Lamb Chops recipe.  The cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric spices take me back to the first time I ever tried Moroccan food when I was young.

I make this all the time, because its fast, easy, and a great snack to make ahead and keep in the fridge. I used carrots, fennel and yellow crook neck squash in this particular preparation, as that those were the veggies I had on hand today, but this recipe tastes especially good with toasted almond slices, onions and raisins.  To really brighten up the final product, I squeezed half a lemon on it and sprinkled a little fresh mint. Chef Rebecca was kind enough to give me permission to to reprint this recipe in full.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thanks Rebecca!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots finely diced
  • 1 medium size fennel bulb
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1 cup dry organic quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups of filtered water or vegetable stock
  • sea salt to taste
  • Optional: 1 yellow crook neck squash
  • Optional: 1/4 cup of fresh chopped mint or parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and then add the shallot, fennel, carrot, and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally with a spoon for about 3 minutes until the vegetables start to sweat.
  2. Stir in the quinoa, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and cardamom, then stir in vegetable stock or filtered water, a pinch of salt and bring to a boil
  3. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  4. If you decided on using the crook neck squash: saute the squash in olive oil over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes until tender.  Set aside until quinoa is done cooking
  5. Remove quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork, then add the optional squash and parsley or mint
  6. Do a quick taste and if you want, add a quick squeeze of lemon juice to add some acid or “amp” up the flavor
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Will stay fresh stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days
  • Nutrition Per Serving:  Calories: 270; Fat: 10 grams; Carbohydrates: 39 grams, Protein: 8 grams


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Moroccan Pesto

  • This recipe was suggested to go with my African spice lamb chop recipe by Rebecca Katz, who has the recipe listed in her ” The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” cookbook and gave me permission to reprint it here.  It was a great suggestion because the African spiced lamb chops played off spectacularly with this pesto, and really elevated it to a sophisticated and elegant dish.  This “pesto” sauce is very versatile and would play up well with any number of proteins and global cuisines.  African Spiced Lamb Chop recipe here

This recipe makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed fresh cilantro or basil leaves (I used basil)
  • 6 fresh mint leaves (or more if you want a more “minty flavor”)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water (optional)

Directions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor (or high speed blender) and process until well blended.  Do a Fat, Acid, Salt, Sweet check to see whether you need to add another squeeze or two of lemon juice, and add water to achieve the desired consistency.

Calories per serving: 35, Total Fat: 3.6 g

Will stay fresh in airtight container for up to 7 days in a fridge, or in the freezer 2 months.

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