Making a simple quinoa pilaf is one of my favourite ways of cooking with quinoa. It's a really nice way to transform this wonderful grain-seed into a tasty and easy dinner. In this one, asparagus and red pepper are gently roasted and mixed with plenty of fresh herbs in this most appetizing of vegetarian recipes for quinoa.
This is a lovely colourful mix but do feel free to experiment with different herbs or vegetables. I also like to add nuts to a pilaf for taste - and for an added protein punch. In this case, I've used pistachios but you could leave them out or try pine nuts or almonds instead if you prefer.
1 cup/180g of quinoa, well rinsed in several changes of water and drained
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 cups/475mls of water
1 teaspoon of coarse salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 bunch of asparagus, about a half pound or 225g
1 small sweet red pepper
About half a cup of fresh herbs (For me this was 4 tablespoons of flat leaf Italian parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped mint and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or to taste
3 tablespoons of pistachios
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then add the water, salt and chilli flakes. Cover and bring up to the boil. Now lower the heat as far as it will go and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed. At this stage remove the lid, cover the quinoa with a clean towel, replace the lid and let the pilaf sit for about 10 minutes so that the grains are light and fluffy.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oven to a moderately hot temperature - 400F/200C. Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus spears and cut them and the pepper into small pieces, roughly about an inch and a half or 4 cm in length.
Toss the vegetables into a roasting pan with a splash of olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. The vegetables will still have a little bite at this stage. Now scrape the pepper and asparagus into the pot with the quinoa, along with the herbs, lemon juice and pistachios. Fork through to mix and fluff up the quinoa.
Serve immediately. This is also great at room temperature as a salad. The recipe is completely gluten free and vegan.