After posting a photo of this yummy weeknight dinner dish on Instagram last week, it seemed it was time for another quinoa recipe to pop up here as it has been quite a long while. In truth, we don’t eat a massive amount of quinoa in our house (for reasons you will read below), but every now and again I love throwing together an easy meal of high protein plant power with this amazing grain.
The last time I posted this popular coconut quinoa breakfast bowl, I also shared (IMO) an enlightening article that I had read a few years back from the New York Times – about how the rise in the global demand for quinoa was affecting the diets of Bolivians, where this superfood (and ancient grain) originates. Then recently, it seemed the internet exploded with this article by the Guardian, once again bringing awareness to the effects of our infatuation with quinoa and how it was affecting the people of its homeland. This article took an interesting twist by specifically highlighting vegans as one of quinoa’s main consumers, suggesting that the rise in veganism has also played a significant part in its huge popularity.
If you (like me) are sensitive to these types of stories, I’d like to share with you and strongly encourage you to listen to this interview that aired on CBC Radio here in Canada shortly after the Guardian article was published. I personally found it to be fascinating, as things aren’t always just what they seem, and not everything finds its way into the media with glaring clarity. Hint: wait until you have 20 minutes to listen to the interview while pinning away on Pinterest 🙂 For now, my stance on the issue is the same as it has always been: I will continue to eat & serve quinoa as I always have in our house – sparingly, with as much joy & gratitude as I can muster, and without wasting any. We aren’t really entitled to anything we eat after all, and I just figure if we strike a balance, there might just be enough for everyone involved to benefit. I’d love to know your thoughts on this matter if you do get a chance to listen.
Easy Quinoa, Cumin & French Bean Pilaf:
(1.75) cups water
(1)# french green beans or fresh green or yellow beans
(1) cup cooked chickpeas
(1) cup toasted almond slivers
(1) tbsp cumin seeds
(2) tbsp olive oil
(1-1.5) tsp salt
(1/3) cup thinly sliced red onions, cut vertically
Halves of cherry tomatoes & feta for topping (optional)
Start by combining the quinoa and cold water in a medium saucepan and bringing to a boil on high. Once boiling, keep covered and turn the heat to low. Cook the quinoa with the lid on for 20-25 minutes. When finished, fluff with a fork to let some steam escape and set aside. While the quinoa cooks, wash and trim the French or green beans and put up to boil in a pan with enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water before submerging into an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it). Keep the beans in there while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Toast the almonds in the oven on a flat baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or so and remove to cool. Prepare the cooked chickpeas (assuming you are using canned) & slice the red onions. These steps can all be done in advance and the next steps should be done immediately before preparing, and it goes by fast. To quickly cook the pilaf, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet or wok for one minute over medium-high heat. Add the whole cumin seeds and cook, stirring for one minute, and just as the seeds are becoming fragrant. Add the quinoa, beans & salt (adding more to taste if desired) and gently heat and stir until well mixed and warm, about 3-4 minutes. Toss in the almonds and red onions slices and serve at once.
Optional add-ons could be cherry tomato halves, feta, chopped parsley or cilantro or all of the above. This dish makes a splendid all in one meal or an add-on to a heavier main course. It goes great with just about anything and the leftovers are fantastic dressed up as a cold weekday salad. Also, if you like this dish, you might also want to check out this quinoa salad – it’s one of my favourite summer salads hands down and shares some of my favourite flavours along with this dish (I can’t help it I love cumin seeds).