Quinoa pilaf with cherries and walnuts

    40 min

    Grain-like quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is not a grain at all, but the seed of a plant related to Swiss chard. Here, it is cooked with a creative mixture of tastes — thyme, cherries and walnuts — to make a great side dish.

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    Serves: 12 

    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 350g (12oz) quinoa
    • 450ml (16floz) boiling water
    • pepper to taste
    • ½ tsp dried thyme
    • 140g (5oz) dried cherries
    • 70g (2½oz) toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts

    Prep:10min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:40min 

    1. Heat the oil in a nonstick flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes or until golden brown.
    2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a large dry frying pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
    3. Add the quinoa to the casserole. Stir in the boiling water, pepper and thyme. Return to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10–12 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
    4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cherries and walnuts. Serve hot, at room temperature or chilled.

    Some more ideas

    *Use dried cranberries in place of dried cherries.
    *Make this pilaf with long-grain brown rice instead of quinoa. Use 185g (6½oz) rice and 450ml (16fl oz) boiling water. Follow the directions for steps 2 and 3, cooking the brown rice for 40–50 minutes.

    Health points

    *Quinoa is suddenly popular, but it is an ancient grain, dating back about 4000 years and consumed by the Aztecs. It is particularly high in lysine, an amino acid necessary for the synthesis of protein, making it one of the best sources of plant protein. Plus, it provides lots of magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E, iron and fibre.
    *Walnuts provide useful amounts of vitamin E, many of the B vitamins and potassium.

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