Quinoa Pilaf with Chipotle, Queso Fresco and Lime
I’m half beginning to wonder if I should rename my blog something about quinoa and desserts. We used to eat quinoa about once a week but lately it makes it onto the menu at least two or three times per week in some form or another. Lately Andrew has been asking, “Mom, can we do that thing where you type all the food we want to eat?” (i.e. weekly menu planning), and he puts quinoa on the list every.single.time.
Mostly we enjoy it as a main course but given its similarity to rice or pasta, it clearly has excellent potential as a side dish. This particular version features ground chipotle chile powder, cumin, scallions and lime juice which ultimately result in something reminiscent of a typical Mexican rice side, but much healthier. Considering that we make some form of Mexican food at least once a week, this will be going into heavy rotation in our house. It also makes a nice base for vegetarian taco or burrito filling. I used some of the leftovers to make tacos with fresh veggies thrown in and a drizzle of avocado cream sauce, and it made a great lunch as well.
Yield: about 6-8 servings
- 1½ cups pre-rinsed quinoa*
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1¾ cups water
- ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lime
Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until the quinoa is fragrant and making a popping sound, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Replace the pan on the burner over medium heat. Melt the butter and olive oil together. Stir in the diced onion, chipotle powder, cumin and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the water and quinoa and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer over low heat, and let cook just until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 18-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 more minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Stir in the peanuts, queso fresco, scallions and lime juice. Serve warm.
*If your quinoa is not pre rinsed, place in a fine mesh strainer, drain well, and then spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with towels. Let dry for 15 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.