Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme
Is it harder to get kids or adults to try new foods?
I am not a parent yet, but I know I was a pretty picky eater as a child. I was definitely better at eating my fruits and veggies than my brother, but we both drove our Mom crazy.
Now the roles are reversed. I am the one eating so many different foods and sharing them with my parents.
Quinoa, possibly my favourite (pseudo)grain, has been a hard sell for my parents. To be fair, in Ottawa, the quinoa never seemed to cook properly. It was mushy and water-logged. I don’t know what was so different but it was a recurring theme. I recommended my standard technique: using less liquid (broth is more flavourful) and then let it sit, lid closed, to steam and help fluff it up. Another option (albeit more fussy) is to partially cook it, drain it and then steam the quinoa.
I thought my Mom had given up on quinoa altogether. I was surprised when I spotted quinoa in her pantry.
Turns out she had finally found a recipe she liked after my sister-in-law served it. Lucky for me, my Mom decided to treat me to her new favourite quinoa recipe.
The main flavours were classic: lemon and thyme. The difference was in the quinoa. First it was rinsed, dried, toasted, cooked in a minimal amount of broth and then steamed with a towel. I typically use a 1.75:1 broth:quinoa ratio but this was much closer to 1:1. This results in no-mush quinoa. The kernels are separate and flavourful. Due to the limited liquid, you might notice they do not become as big and not as voluminous. They are also not water-logged.
I like to include a lot of vegetables in my meals, so instead of adding them directly to the quinoa pilaf, I served mine with grilled asparagus and grilled balsamic mushrooms. My Dad, very generously, donated cut-up asparagus as pupils and a uni-nostril to complete my happy meal. He is not a fan of asparagus, so I gladly ate his offering. Maybe we are all picky kids at heart?
Did you have any rough starts with some foods in your kitchen?
PS, I think I may need new glasses. These photos look fuzzy. Oh well, too lazy to fix that!
1 onion, minced
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed and dried on a towel
1.25 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley, basil, cilantro or scallions (we used scallions this time)
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Once hot, add onion and sprinkle with salt. Saute until the onion is softened, around 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Add dried quinoa, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, lemon zest and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed the broth, around 16-18 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and place a clean folded kitchen towel across the top of the pot and replace the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice and scallions or fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Serves 6 as a side.