Sunny Quinoa Pilaf

With this pilaf I am offering food that is reminescent of the sudden and mood-altering appearance of consistent warmth in Vancouver – energy inducing, sunnny hued, and completely satisfying. As a native Ontarian I have grown up enduring the harsh cold of London winters, and while my first winter in Vancouver was completed without the donning of winter coats I found the absence of light good company for depression at best and oppressive at worst. At least in the midst of freezing temperatures their were days so bright it was hard to know where to look as I watched the light bouncing off of the snow and the frozen tree branches. Despite the consistency of green here I have missed the sunshine dearly and thankfully over the past few weeks the weather has shifted to something kinder. This pilaf is entirely condusive to outdoor activities, eat it warm or bring it on a picnic (the day of or for several days following.) This makes a really simple and light dinner paired with some roasted asparagus or some form of protein, such as trout grilled with orange sllices, and some cut-up fruit for dessert. Alternately, you can mix in some chickpeas and toasted pumpkin seeds for a filling vegetarian dinner all by itself. Quinoa (and any other grain) is the one product that I like buying from Costco, I’ve had a gigantic bag sitting in my cupboard for eight months and it’s nowhere near being finished.

sunny quinoa pilaf:

1 1/2 cups of quinoa
1 cup of orange juice + 2 cups of water or vegetable stock
A pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp. of curry powder
1 cup of diced orange, yellow, and red sweet peppers (or just pick one colour)
1 big bunch of Italian parsley
About 2 oz. of mild feta, crumbled
Zest of one orange
1/2 cup of chopped, dried fruit (or you can just use Craisins, like I have here)

1. Rinse your quinoa if you feel up to it, I never do this step and have yet to bite into bitter quinoa. In a large pot with a well-fitting lid dry toast the quinoa for a few minutes over medium-high heat (and by this I mean place the quinoa directly into the dry pot and stir until lightly toasted.) Add the orange juice, stock, turmeric, and curry powder.

2. Allow the liquids to come to a boil; put the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low. Qunioa can sometimes be fussy about the time it takes to cook, start peeking after ten minutes and once all the liquid has been absorbed take off the heat and remove the lid.

3. In a large serving bowl combine the remaining ingredients, folding in the still-warm quinoa so that the feta melts slightly into the pilaf. Serve warm or cold, leftovers of this dish always appreciate a flavour boost using the juice of half of an orange.

I feel like when summer hits my musical tastes expand from fuzzy, depressing, and distorted to slightly easier music – music that doesn’t necessarily involve a singer who is suicidal and makes you feel like you’re swimming through black soup. Anyway, I  have always had a love-love relationship with Janet Jackson – “The Velvet Rope” is one of my all-time favourite pop albums (not only for the Joni Mitchell sampling.) It’s perfect music to make dinner preparation leisurely, to have a glass of wine while you’re getting everything ready, and then finally to sit on your balcony and eat with your feet propped up on the railings.

Janet Jackson –  Go Deep

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