Cherry Pecan Quinoa Pilaf

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I’m continually on the lookout for new side dishes.  On a weekly basis my old standbys of potatoes, pasta and rice get boring.  I’m also acutely aware of the overflowing shelves that characterize my pantry.  I have enough food in there to feed a small country and with a move on the horizon I really need to start “cooking down” my supply.  When I came across a bag of red quinoa that my mom had sent me I decided to try my hand at this new-to-me grain.

After researching how to cook these tiny red pellets I headed into the kitchen to experiment and I think my results were pretty tasty.  Much to my surprise quinoa cooks up quickly making it a perfect accompaniment to just about any dinner.  I served it alongside a maple and soy glazed salmon as a Fast Friday meal.  Glenn even thinks the  dish is dinner worthy for guests so I guess that says it all.

CHERRY PECAN QUINOA PILAF

1/4 cup whole pecans

1 cup red quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

juice of one orange

3/4 cup fresh cherries

  • Toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until brown and crunchy.  Allow to cool.  Once cool, coarsely chop the pecans.
  • Rinse the quinoa in cool water and thoroughly drain.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot add the minced garlic and stir for one minute.
  • Add the quinoa and allow to cook until the grains are dry and most of them have opened; about 5 minutes.
  • Add the water and salt to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover.  Continue to simmer until the grains are fully cooked, 18-20 minutes.
  • Add the orange juice and cherries and stir until combined.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the toasted pecans, and serve immediately.
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