Here’s a quinoa and cauliflower pilaf that’s simple enough to make for a weeknight meal and festive enough to serve at special occasions. Depending on what else and how much you’re serving, this can be used as either a main or side dish.
With just a few well-chosen ingredients, this dish manages to showcase sweet, savory, and nutty flavors.
Plan ahead: If you can plan ahead, having cooked quinoa and chopped cauliflower makes this dish a breeze to put together. And if you need a shortcut, you can use frozen cauliflower — it’s not quite as good, but it will do in a pinch.
You can use any color quinoa, or a blend, though I think red quinoa is the most festive if you’re going to serve this as a holiday or company dish.
The various shades of quinoa — is there a difference?
Is there a difference between red and white quinoa (which is actually tan)? Not much, really. Red quinoa is slightly prettier, of course, but you can certainly swap in the more common quinoa. There’s black quinoa as well, and blends that you can purchase with all three colors together.
The only discernible difference is that red and black quinoa seem to need a little more water to cook. The impressive nutrient profile is quite similar as well. You can swap in any variety or blend into this recipe. Learn more in our guide to quinoa,
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- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow or red onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small pieces and florets
- 1⁄2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- 1⁄4 cup minced fresh parsley, or more, to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2⁄3 cup toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts, or shelled pistachios
- Combine the quinoa with the broth in a saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. If the quinoa isn’t done to your liking, add 1/2 cup water and cook until absorbed.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is just starting to brown lightly.
- Add the cauliflower and about 1⁄3 cup water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender.
- Once the quinoa is done, add it to the cauliflower mixture, followed by the raisins or cranberries, parsley, and lemon juice. Toss together, cook just a minute or two longer, then remove from the heat.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of the nuts, then scatter the remaining nuts over the top and serve.
Variation: Use sliced dried apricot in place of raisins or cranberries. In that case, use a bit more than 1/2 cup.
Photos above: Hannah Kaminsky. Photos originally appeared on VegKitchen.com