Quinoa is seriously under-valued by so many, and it's a real shame because it's a truly divine grain. Fortunately it's seen for its value in its land of origin, the South American Andes region, where it has been cultivated for some 6,000 years.
Technically a seed rather than a grain, this star food is one of the most complete proteins out there, containing all the amino acids about which those uneducated doctors-cum-[wannabe] nutritionists chide veggies (I've been vegetarian for 17 years and I'm still waiting to be hospitalised for malnutrition, as promised by so many).
In my pictures you'll notice I used this recipe as a stuffing for baked peppers. While this was good I suggest using this as a side dish instead. The reason lies with the dill, a mild herb with a flavour easily lost with too much heat. If you intend to oven-bake this quinoa recipe then I suggest serving it with some fresh dill after the baking process is complete.
Why Arabic inspired? The Arabic world's contribution to the food fusion scene is one which has offered uncomplicated yet inspired results. One reason I adore this region's food is because its cuisine uses simplicity and general know-how to engineer heaven on a plate. Combine this with a little creativity and your imagination can stretch the basics for miles and miles. For instance pine nuts, dill, and Middle Eastern spices combined with a seed of the gods, an Incan grain fit for kings.
As with many (most?) of my recipes, the ingredient quantities can take some guesswork in measurements, and most certainly have room for experimentation.
Perfect to serve with some new potatoes doused in olive oil or butter, this quinoa is also filling on its own (though you may want to increase the recipe a bit).
Arabic Inspired Quinoa (Vegan)
- Rinse your quinoa and place in a saucepan along with 200ml of water of stock (as a general rule, you want about 2 parts water to one part quinoa). Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are soft.
- Meanwhile fry the onion in the olive oil on a medium-high heat until just transparent before adding the pine nuts. Continue to fry for about one minute more and add the diced tomato, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin to the pan, plus salt to taste.
- Remove both the quinoa (drain any excess water away) and the onion mixture from the heat and combine along with the lemon juice and dill.
- Serve immediately, garnished with some chopped flat leaf parsley if desired. Alternatively refrigerate and serve cold as a salad or the perfect picnic food.