Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots and Pecans
Eating healthy should never leave you hungry, which is one of the reasons I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). It looks like couscous and eats like a grain but it’s actually the tiny seed of a plant related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard. Quinoa is incredibly high in protein and fiber, and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. What’s more? It’s gluten-free, cooks quickly (just 15 minutes!) and can take on limitless flavors. Here, I’ve gussied it up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans to make an earthy and hearty dish.
One of the secrets to making delicious quinoa is to ignore the instructions on the package, which almost always call for too much liquid and result in mushy quinoa. For quinoa that is light, fluffy and slightly crunchy, the ideal ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 1-2/3 cup liquid.
In the meantime, cook the the onions gently in olive oil until they start to soften.
Add the diced carrots and thyme and continue to cook until the carrots are just tender.
Next, stir in the shiitake mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are done.
Finally, stir in the cooked quinoa, pecans and parsley.
That’s all there is to it. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy as a hearty side or meatless main course.
- 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed or rinsed
- 1-2/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, best quality such as Swanson, or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted if desired
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and thyme and cook until the carrots are just tender, 5-7 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are cooked through, a few minutes. Season vegetables with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Add cooked quinoa to vegetables and stir in pecans and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or warm.
Shiitakes never come in contact with dirt, so the only washing usually necessary is a gentle wipe with a damp cloth or a paper towel. Use a knife to remove the stems where they meet the cap.