Green Diva Meg’s Gluten-Free, Arsenic-Free Quinoa Pilaf

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Having read Anna Hackman’s guest post here and too many articles lately on the high levels or arsenic showing up in rice and rice products, this gluten-free green diva is now hoping they don’t find anything wrong with quinoa!

This time of year, I start craving hearty rice pilaf. My family counts on me to make a big pot at the beginning of the week that we eat with a variety of other dishes throughout the week. It’s a fall and winter staple in this house. In light of this arsenic thing, I’m being forced to warm up to quinoa as there are few other grains as good for a gluten-free alternative. I’m aware that it is a super food, which made me kind of skeptical initially actually . . . I’ve been slow to warm up to it, but I’ve discovered that it works nicely with my basic pilaf recipe and it’s so much quicker to make than the brown rice pilaf!

GD Meg’s Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

Keep in mind, for me this recipe is all about what veggies you have handy and what kind of mood you are in. For instance, you can toss in some curry spice during the veggie saute stage (just before adding the quinoa) for a warm and exotic flavoring – and if you do the curry flavor, you may want to add some raisins after you cook the quinoa and garnish with mint or cilantro. You may prefer a more bland flavor and not use veggie broth or garlic and substitute more subtle scallions for the more pungent onions. I’ll lay out my basic recipe – the important bit is to have the right proportions of grain and fluid.

Basic Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil for cooking)

1/2 medium onion finely chopped

3 – 4 mushrooms chopped into smaller bits

1 – 2 carrots chopped into smaller bits

1 pepper chopped into smaller bits

1 – 2 cloves garlic crushed

1/4 salt (or to taste)

pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or water)

Basic Instructions

1. It is important to rinse the quinoa. Quinoa has a icky-flavored coating called saponin. Many companies that distribute quinoa rinse it off, but just in case and to get rid of any potential residue, it is best to give it a wee soak and good rinse. So, soak it in some water for 5 – 10 minutes, rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer. set it aside.

2. While the quinoa is bathing, chop all your veggies. I like to chop things up small for pilaf. I just think it cooks better and distributes better throughout the grain. So, no need to be precise or dainty about it, just chop away.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and start by sautéing the onions for a minute or two to coat and seal, then add carrots for another minute, then mushrooms for a minute, then peppers for another minute, then garlic just before adding the quinoa, which has hopefully drained well and isn’t too watery (might even want to dry it a little so it gets coated with the oil well). Stir quickly and get the quinoa coated with the oil, garlic and flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add vegetable broth (or water) and stir until it begins to boil. Then put a tight lid on it and turn the burner down to low and simmer for 15 minutes covered.

5. Turn off the burner and let sit for a few minutes, fluff w/ a fork and voila, you have super nutritious, gluten-free, arsenic-free pilaf that will go with a million other main and side dishes!

About the author / 

Green Diva Meg'

(aka Megan McWilliams) is the founder of The Green Divas and GDGD Radio Network (the first green and healthy living radio network on earth for the earth). She's the producer and host of the popular Green Divas Radio Show, one of the first radio shows dedicated to sharing low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green. Green Diva Meg is a well-known green living expert and media personality.

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    slywlf October 14, 2012 at 11:24 am -  Reply

    Just got directed here from Care2 – love this recipe – it sounds yummy as-is, but I love flexible recipes as I am an inveterate experimenter 😉

    Anna@Green Talk October 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for the mention. I am becoming the arsenic queen. You might like toasting the quiona in a skillet before cooking it in the broth. It gives it a little more flavor. You can toast it damp by the way.

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