Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed some quality time with family and friends over the holidays. There’s always such a frenzy leading up to the holidays, and then some nice quiet time, which is what I look forward to the most. I had the chance to get away with my family to some warmer weather, and relax. I watched Food Network into the wee hours of the night, caught up on reading through some of my favorite food magazines, and read a few books I’ve been wanting to get to. Our family also enjoyed lots and lots of relaxing meals together, one of my favorite things to do.
One of my healthy living goals in 2012 is to introduce a wider variety of whole grains to my kids. Quinoa is one of them. Although I’ve made quinoa salads, warm quinoa for breakfast, and soup with quinoa, I had yet to serve a warm quinoa dish like this Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf. I’d seen Karina’s (Gluten-Free Goddess) Rice Cooker Quinoa recipe a while back, and it had been on my mind to try for a while. I usually cook quinoa on the stove, but wanted to try making it in a rice cooker to see how it turned out.
Several weeks ago, I bumped into a mom who said she tried making quinoa for her son one night. Unfortunately he didn’t like it. After we talked further, I realized she hadn’t rinsed the quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa has a natural bitter coating called saporin, which must be rinsed off before cooking. I suggested cooking quinoa like a rice pilaf, although I’d actually never tried it myself. So, that was extra incentive for me to make it for my kids one night.
I was super pleased with this Rice Cooker Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms. It came out very fluffy and light, almost like couscous. In fact, when I serve it with my Slow Cooker Lentil Chili the other night (recipe to come), one of my sons thought it was couscous.
I developed this recipe for the Williams-Sonoma blog, The Blender, to start the New Year off with a healthy way to prepare whole grains. Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain, but it is sometimes referred to as an ancient grain as it was once considered to be the “gold of the Incas.” Quinoa is a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. In addition, quinoa is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, folate, and fiber.
Rice Cooker Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
- 1 cup quinoa soaked in water 15 minutes, then rinsed thoroughly and drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot finely chopped
- 1/2 cup celery finely chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
Heat oil in a medium saute pan. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Sauté until onions are softened and mushrooms are lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add quinoa and turmeric and continue sauteing for 2 more minutes to toast quinoa. Transfer quinoa mixture to rice cooker. Add red bell pepper and broth. Cook on “white rice” setting.
Toss to loosen up quinoa.
Quinoa has a bitter coating called saponin that needs to be washed off before cooking. Briefly soaking and then rinsing quinoa before cooking removes this coating.