Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quinoa with Onions














Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a very healthy grain that can be served alongside an entree, or AS the entree.  According to wikipedia, quinoa is high in protein and fiber, and is gluten-free. 

It is very important to rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove its soapy, bitter-tasting coating.  Supposedly the coating is a natural protection against predators and lazy cooks.  If you ever forget to rinse, you will not make the same mistake twice. 

Found the original version of this recipe while trolling the internet for something else (as usual) that I am unable to recall at the moment (as usual).  Although there are only a few ingredients and you keep reusing the same saucepan, because of the long onion-cooking step it falls out of the easy category.














 This is about a tablespoon of pine nuts.  You will want to add several more tablespoons in order to taste them in the finished product.  Considering how expensive pine nuts are, you better be able to taste them.

You can save a tiny bit of time by skipping the pine nut toasting, but the smell of toasted nuts is  wonderful (and the taste is almost mind-blowing), plus you get to reuse the saucepan (no extra pot to wash), so I recommend taking the extra minute out of your life to toast.  You can thank me later.

Quinoa with Onions and Pine Nuts
adapted from Cara's Cravings
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as an entree

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups), large slices halved
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (about 10-12 stems)

In a 2 quart saucepan, toast the pine nuts over low heat. Stir a few times and heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 1 minute or so.  They can burn fast, so pay attention.  Transfer toasted nuts into a 1 quart-size bowl and set aside.

Add oil to the saucepan and increase heat to medium. When hot, toss in the onions.














Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.














Onions after a couple minutes.  The rings have separately and are starting to look almost creamy.














Onions after 10 minutes.  They are getting very soft, but have a while to go yet.  When the onions are either a rich golden brown color (20 minutes) ...














... or just slightly browned but you are bored out of your mind after only 15 minutes as I was, then  remove from pan and add to the bowl with the pine nuts.  Do not bother to rinse saucepan.














However, do rinse the quinoa well and drain.

Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil in the same saucepan in which you cooked the onions.














Add quinoa and salt, cover and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and barely simmer (similarly to rice) for 15 minutes.  In this photo you can just make out bubbling around the edges after the 10 minute mark.














Now the water is fully absorbed and the grains are expanded and fluffy.














Remove from heat and stir in reserved pine nuts and onions along with parsley.















This photo is a little clearer.  You can see the tiny grain rings peeking out from the onions.

Serve alongside an entree or as the entree.  Either way, add another veggie of choice, if desired.

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