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Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans

Quinoa, a tiny, nutritious seed native to the Andes, is high in protein and loaded with niacin, iron, phosphorus and potassium. The cooked seeds are crunchy and nutty, the perfect background for dried fruits and toasted nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans 
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in a sieve and drained well 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans in a small baking pan, place in the oven and toast until they are fragrant and have taken on color, about 15 minutes. Pour onto a plate and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until a quinoa seed dropped into it sizzles upon contact. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until the seeds are separate and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until any excess moisture is cooked off, about 1 minute.

Spoon the quinoa into a warmed serving dish. Top with the toasted pecans and cranberries, and serve. Serves 4.

Variation:

Quinoa with Pine Nuts and Broccoli Omit the pecans and substitute 2 Tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted in a small, dry fry pan over low heat for about 3 minutes. Gently stir 2 cups chopped steamed broccoli florets into the quinoa during the last 1 minute of cooking.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).