Quinoa Confetti Pilaf: September Sides

Quinoa Confetti Pilaf with Caramelized Onion & Fennel, Zucchini, Red Pepper, & Prosciutto

 

Have you discovered quinoa yet?

Go ahead, say it with me — Keen-wah

This ancient South American grain the Incas called “the mother of all grains” has become increasingly popular here in the U.S. since it was introduced in the 1990′s. We first discovered quinoa a couple of years ago when searching for alternatives to wheat for our daughter who is gluten-intolerant, so we are slow getting to the party. It has a pleasant texture, similar to couscous, and unlike some whole grains that seem a little too earthy, quinoa is mildly rice-like and doesn’t compete with other ingredients allowing subtle flavor profiles to come through.

What is it?

Though thought of as a grain, it is technically the fruit or seed of the Goosefoot plant, a member of the same food family as spinach, Swiss chard, and beets. Its rise in popularity is due in part to being sought by vegetarians as it is a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids, and those looking for gluten-free alternatives to wheat. Quinoa is also ground into flour for a bread and pasta products, which we have found to have superior taste and texture to rice pasta. The two pasta brands I highly recommend are Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta and Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta (no, I was not compensated to mention these).

Check out more nutritional information about quinoa here at The World’s Healthiest Foods.

How to prepare it:

Most recipes I have seen recommend a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa and only a 15 minute cooking time, which nearly turned me off to it entirely. This cooking method was unpredictably soggy at times as well as having an odd crunchy sort of “pop” to the texture that was not appealing to anyone around our table. In my continued search for better quinoa, I found the blog Cooking Quinoa with instructions for “how to cook quinoa perfectly.” Wendy was right; it turns out perfectly fluffy every time with a tender chew more akin to rice or pastas like couscous, which pleased everyone in our family.

Also noteworthy …

♦  Naturally coated with saponins, it is important to rinse quinoa before cooking to remove any bitterness. Though some are sold pre-washed and the package will indicate that, it is a good idea to rinse prior to cooking to remove any remaining residue.

♦  In most grocery stores you can find red and golden quinoa, but in some specialty markets you may also find black, orange, pink and purple shades as well. The color does not affect cooking time or texture to any noticeable degree, but pigment may change slightly once cooked.

♦  Quinoa expands almost three times its size when cooked.

1 cup uncooked quinoa = 4 cups cooked

1 cup uncooked pasta = 2 cups cooked

1 cup uncooked rice = 3 cups cooked

Ready to start savoring?

In this recipe I used both red and golden quinoa to add a confetti effect to the dish, but you can use just one type if you like. Start by preparing the quinoa combo to fluffy perfection and then mix-in caramelized onion and fennel (I still think about that pizza), sautéed zucchini and red bell pepper, and top it off with crisp prosciutto. It is a side dish that goes well with grilled or roasted meats and rewarms beautifully for lunches throughout the week as a meal all its own. Although I think the caramelized onion and fennel are a must here, you can choose any number of other vegetables to toss into the mix—oh, and don’t skip the prosciutto, it lends a salty-savory-studded crunch that takes this dish over the top!

Quinoa Confetti Pilaf

Serves: Serves 6-8

Quinoa Confetti Pilaf

Crisp prosciutto, caramelized onion and fennel with sautéed zucchini and red pepper tossed in tender quinoa. A light, complete meal or all-in-one side dish any night of the week.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa -- rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup golden quinoa -- rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more as needed for onions and zucchini
  • 4 ounces sliced prosciutto -- cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb -- sliced 1/8" thick
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion -- sliced 1/8" thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups zucchini -- cut 1/2" thick
  • 1 large red bell pepper -- diced
  • 3 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions

  1. Place quinoa, butter, and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the quinoa absorbs all the water in the pan. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to use.
  2. While quinoa is simmering cook prosciutto in a large skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add onion and fennel with another tablespoon of olive oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat until light golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Once onions and fennel are done, remove from skillet and place in the sauce pan on top of the quinoa. Replace lid to keep warm.
  5. In the same skillet, sauté zucchini, red pepper, and garlic over medium heat. Season with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables have released liquid and begin to brown in spots. Drizzle with a small amount of oil if needed, but a dry skillet will produce better browning.
  6. Once the vegetables are done, toss with quinoa and onions in a large bowl to combine. Sprinkle crisp prosciutto on top to garnish and serve.

Notes

This dish can be kept warm in an oven and garnished with the prosciutto just before serving.

http://savoringtoday.com/2012/09/19/quinoa-confetti-pilaf-september-sides/

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Mom Trends Friday Food
Hearth & Soul Hop
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday

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15 Responses to Quinoa Confetti Pilaf: September Sides

  1. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) September 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    I haven’t gone the quinoa route myself Judy, but my better half has made it for me and I did enjoy it. Though I think that I would have enjoyed your recipe more. (shhhhhh) ;-)
    Jed Gray (sportsglutton) recently posted..Glutton Travels: Observations from the Cowboy StateMy Profile

    • Judy October 2, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Thanks Jed, quinoa is a nice change of pace from rice or pasta. :)

  2. Mary September 20, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    This sounds delicious and the information you’ve shared with us is invaluable. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary
    Mary recently posted..Pie-Spiced Apple CookiesMy Profile

    • Judy October 2, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you, Mary, you too!

  3. Jen @ Savory Simple September 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of quinoa, I have it almost every day. This looks fantastic.
    Jen @ Savory Simple recently posted..Cheesy Baked Jalapeno PoppersMy Profile

    • Judy October 2, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Thanks Jen! We are enjoying it more and more.

  4. rosita vargas September 21, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Soy fan de la quínoa es un plato saludable y con muchos beneficios aquí en Chile se cosecha bastante,abrazos hugs,hugs.

  5. kitchenriffs September 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Quinoa is good stuff. I don’t use it that much, but I should – it has wonderful flavor and is so healthy. I dislike soggy quinoa too, so thanks for the cooking tips.
    kitchenriffs recently posted..Spicy Potatoes with Ginger and GarlicMy Profile

    • Judy October 2, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      You are very welcome! We tend to be very picky about textures.

  6. Raymund September 23, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    This quinoa dish is a keeper, looks so appetizing
    Raymund recently posted..Clam ChowderMy Profile

  7. ChgoJohn September 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    I’ve not tried quinoa yet, Judy but I am halfway there, I bought some. Your salad sounds and looks fantastic and would make a great inaugural dish. Thanks for sharing so much quinoa info. I really had no idea about much of it.
    ChgoJohn recently posted..What I Did On My Summer VacationMy Profile

    • Judy October 2, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      I think you will enjoy it, John, especially if you’ve ever tried and liked couscous. Let me know how your inaugural dish goes, or maybe I’ll see you post about it. :)

  8. Lulu October 5, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Love quinoa and the sound of this recipe. I actually have the ingredients and can’t wait to give it a try this weekend.
    Lulu recently posted..Hanging On!My Profile

  9. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles October 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    This quinoa pilaf is simply stunning – the prosciutto brings it to a whole other level taste wise ;-). Love all your veggie mix-ins. Wonderful!

  10. Swathi October 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    Judy,

    This confetti pilaf is awesome full of goodness. Last week I started cooking quinoa. I love it. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop.
    Swathi recently posted..Gobi aur matar ki sabji/Cauliflower and Green Peas curryMy Profile

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