in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

Easy Quinoa, Cumin & French Bean Pilaf

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) cup quinoa
(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).

Easy Quinoa & Green Bean Skillet | In Pursuit of More

21 responses to “Easy Quinoa, Cumin & French Bean Pilaf

  1. That looks and sounds delicious. It’s always difficult to try and strike a balance with things as everything you do has an impact somewhere down the line. I try to eat seasonally and locally but that has its own implications, as you point out. I think the answer, which I am starting to think is my answer to everything, is moderation in all things!

  2. I realise that Western desire for quinoa may have pushed it out of the price range for the locals but the flip side is supply and demand which pays great dividends to those farmers willing to grow quinoa and the locals can reap the rewards of increased production. Most countries can grow quinoa, pretty soon Western society will be able to buy from savvy farmers wanting to expand on mainstream grain production and the supply problem will even out. I think I would rather go without a grain and get paid well for the privilage and I think that this argument is a bit of a politically correctly motivated greenwash of the real situation to be honest.

    1. This is a great comment, and one that is greatly echoed in the interview shared here – so important to see all the sides to a story! Thanks!

  3. Hello my sweet

    I have been reading about the Quinoa effect, too… Amazing how these things take on a life of their own.

    Down here, the nutrition journey continues. I think I may have the answer to my problem – or at least a big part of the answer. My body doesn’t like grains (and I mean REALLY doesn’t), so as a consequence I am off them all. Despite quinoa being more of a seed than a grain, for the time being I’m steering clear of that and buckwheat, too. Hopefully, a quinoa pilaf can be added to the repertoire sometime in the future…

    When are you coming to visit? XXX

    1. Darling J! I hope you get to the root of the issue by staying off the grain stuff – I often take little breaks too and it’s amazing how different one feels when staving off the cooked grains – I’d love an update! I’m mailing you about this visit thing… XO

  4. The day I heard about the quinoa “situation” I had just bought $10 worth from the bulk bin. I felt guilty. It’s something I need to read more on (and I’m very excited to listen to that interview), but I think it’s so important for Americans to be informed shoppers.

    As always, I love your posts. This dish looks simple and yet filling.

    1. Thanks Jocelyn! I’m with you and I think a slew of folks around the world who felt the same way – I agree that being informed is so important and was happy to get a different perspective from the CBC article (so worth the read). Appreciate all of your support!

  5. What a beautiful recipe Shira – we too have been making a more conscious effort to consume a little less quinoa in our house after learning about the effects it is having on others around the world. We do still enjoy it once in a while but not nearly as often as we once did. Thanks for sharing these great articles and your insights! xo

  6. The last photo in this post is so visually stunning! I could look at it forever! Beautiful pilaf my dear. I’ve been trying to favor millet, amaranth, cous cous, etc. but they just don’t compare to the quinoa. I’m still using it sparingly though, and have found a new love in polenta 🙂

    1. Polenta rocks Somer! I’m with you and find it awesome – if you get a chance do listen to the CBC article though – it may ease your concerns about quinoa 🙂 xo

  7. I know I don`t eat nearly as much quinoa as I used to since reading those articles, so I`m really intrigued by this interview! I`m giving it a listen asap!

    This salad looks lovely Shira! I love how you make ingredients shine!

  8. Lovely looking dish. I did not know about the quinoa ripple effect. I guess I’ll have to do some listening so I can act accordingly. Hopefully the demand will increase production and bring profits to the people of Bolivia! I guess in part it is up to us to make sure that we are buying our quinoa from reputable companies who do not take advantage of their suppliers.

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