Dinner in a jiff
Want something quick, nutritious and delicious? Orange quinoa & black bean pilaf is your solution. Ethiopian Berbere spices, leeks, garlic, quinoa, black beans and yes, orange cook up to create an easy one-pot meal that will satisfy even the most finicky eaters.
Let’s talk quinoa (‘keen-wah’)
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is a seed that comes from a weedy plant called goosefoot. It’s been a staple part of the diet in the Andes region of South America for generations. Coined a ‘superfood’, quinoa has gained widespread popularity. A transition from exotic to staple, you’ll find quinoa is nearly every plant-based kitchen (and some other types of kitchens too).
Is quinoa a grain?
The quinoa is a seed (like a tomato seed), not a grain. Miriam Webster defines grain as ‘a single hard seed’. Confused? Fair enough. When we think of grains, such as rice, corn, wheat or oats, those are cereal grains. They come from specific grasses from the Poaceae family. Quinoa comes from an entirely different family of grasses that are more akin to spinach, beets and chard.
Why is this even important?
Quinoa is a pseudo cereal grain. This may seem like a subtle difference, but quinoa has a different nutritional make up as a result. It is high in carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Great for our blood sugar. Quinoa seeds have more inner germs (about 60%) so you get more protein for your carbohydrate buck. That high protein content (15%) provides all your essential amino acids.
Is quinoa gluten free?
The short answer is yes. The more delicate answer but do check the label if you have gluten sensitivity. This ensures that your naturally gluten-free quinoa hasn’t been processed with any added ingredients that contain gluten. The same goes for oats by the way.
Berbere spice blend
The flavor combination of orange, quinoa and black beans called me toward a foundation of leeks, garlic and spicy Berbere blend. If you’ve made Ethiopian stew, then hopefully you have some on hand. You’ll only need a teaspoon (maybe more depending on preference). Just like chili and curry powder, I try to keep Berbere blend at the ready.
Beyond the nutritional appeal, quinoa is a quick and easy cook up. Go with a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa and in 15 minutes, you’re all set. As long as you don’t let it burn once all the liquid is absorbed, it’s difficult to overcook it. That a relief for the rice that been left on my shelf. One thing I’ll strongly advise here is that you always, always rinse quinoa before cooking it.
Mix and match
I used a mix of white (regular), black and red quinoa for this orange, quinoa & black bean pilaf recipe. Use whatever you have on hand, just know it all mixes well, so if you have bits of bags sitting around, here’s their chance to shine.
I hope you find orange quinoa & black bean pilaf as delicious as you do easy. It’s one of my favorite latest recipe inspirations. I’m always lured by my red pot that sits on the stove. It calls to me, “fill me, but don’t linger’. I get it pot, be quick about it.
This post left me considering how broad my range of ingredients has become since I started my plant-based journey. The larder in my tiny kitchen is bursting as once exotic one-off foods have become staples. I’ve learned to keep spice blends on hand, so everything is within reach. When preparation is made easier, cooking becomes less of a chore and healthy eating more of a habit. Exotic to staple. One off to habit. Peace.Print
Orange, quinoa & black bean pilaf
Orange, quinoa & black bean pilaf with Berbere spices is a quick one-pot delivery of serious deliciousness powered by gluten free plant-based nutrition.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Ethiopian
- Diet: Vegan
- 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), thinly sliced and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium orange, zest and juice
- 1 tsp. Berbere spice blend
- 1 Tbsp of the following:
- Paprika (smoked or sweet)
- White pepper corns
- Crushed red chili flakes (optional)
- Salt (optional)
- 1 Tbsp of the following:
- 3 cups vegetable broth (you can also use water)
- 1 ½ cups dry quinoa (use any color desired or mix a few), rinsed before cooking
- 2 – 15 oz (400 gm) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- In a medium to large pot, sauté the leeks over medium heat until they start to become translucent and slightly brown (5-10 minutes).
- Deglaze the pot by pouring in ¼ cup of broth.
- Add the garlic, orange zest and 1 tsp. Berbere spice blend. Sauté for another minute to combine.
- Add the juice from the orange (about ½ cup) and the remaining broth.
- Add the quinoa and bring the pot to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot.
- Cook the quinoa for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in the black beans and heat through.
- Garnish with sliced green onions, chopped coriander or parsley.
- If you happen to have orange juice on hand rather than a fresh orange. Substitute. You may want to add ¼ cup to replace the orange zest. Reduce the vegetable broth accordingly.
- I used black beans for this recipe because they are so readily available; however, adzuki beans would also be wonderful (and a bit firmer). Change it up and use chickpeas. All good.
- Don’t fret about the long list of ingredients for the Berbere spice blend. You may find is blended at your local or specialty market. You can get a similar flavor if you use cinnamon, allspice, cumin, pepper and paprika.
Keywords: orange quinoa black bean pilaf