Warm Moroccan Quinoa

I'm conscious that I promised to bring you clean vegetarian dishes and that I said way back, when I did the Moroccan lamb kebabs, that if you invested in buying spices and other store cupboard ingredients that I'd show you how to use them. Well after weeks of Mediterranean dishes centred round chicken, meat or fish I'm here to pick up on those promises with a beautiful Moroccan Quinoa dish. Unfortunately the photos don’t really do the dish proud (in reality it looks so much better and is very, very tasty!  I love it and can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow at work. Plus it hits the ‘I would make this if I had people over' mark. I hope you enjoy it!

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Serves 2 as a lunch or 3-4 as a side 

You will need: 

150g quinoa 
450ml cold water 
1 tbsp oil 
3 banana shallots or 4-5 normal shallots, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin 
¼ tsp ground coriander 
¼ tsp cayenne pepper 
¼ tsp ground ginger 
¼ tsp cinnamon 
Pinch salt 
Small handful pine nuts 
10-12 fresh dates chopped 
½ to ¾ bunch coriander, leaves finely chopped 
12 fresh mint leaves 
(I'd have liked to use a handful of apricots but I had none)

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  1. Place your quinoa in a sieve and wash under a running tap for about 2 mins. (Read the packet to ensure you do not have to soak it first, some quinoa needs to be soaked.)
  2. Add oil to a large pan, olive oil would be traditional but I'm using coconut oil as I'm trying to be cleaner, then add finely chopped shallots and all the dried spices. Cook on a med/low heat for 5 mins ensuring the onions do not burn. You can add a teaspoon of water if need be.
  3. Add the quinoa and mix round to coat for about 30 seconds.
    Add the water and a pinch of salt, stir, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. 
  4. Once brought to the boil and leaving the lid on, turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 mins. You can tell it’s cooked as the grains go clear and the spiral like white edge has detached. Keep an eye on it as cooking times vary and you don’t want it to stick.
  5. While the quinoa is cooking, finely chop your leaves, remove the seed from the dates and chop in quarters. If you wanted you could toast your pine nuts first by added them to a hot dry frying pan and keep them moving about for about a minute.
  6. When the quinoa is cooked, add the dates (and apricots if you have them) and half the leaves and pine nuts and give it a good mix.
  7. Transfer to the serving bowl and add the remaining leaves and pine nuts.

Hits, tips and variations 

I've spiced up some turkey pieces, by shaking on some of the dried spices and pan frying in coconut oil. I'll have them cold mixed in with the leftovers for my lunch tomorrow. Although the dish is designed to be warm I'd imagine cold will be good too (I'm having it cold for the first time tomorrow).

This would be delicious and very authentic if served with lamb. Combine the above spices, no need to be too particular in measuring out, I never am, and rub on to lamb before cooking. Try: a leg of lamb and roast, lamb chops griddled, grilled or pan fried or even chunks of lamb made into a kebab pan fried, griddled  or BBQ'd.

Add a few dried apricots for an even more authentic flavour.  I couldn’t find any dried apricots with no added sugar so I didn’t buy any but I have researched it and they are available with nothing added.

To dried fruit or not to dried fruit... This question has been buzzing about for years and I'm going to set the record straight. Not all dried fruit is good for you, even if it has 100% natural or organic on the label. The answer to why it’s not good for you is simple; most dried fruit has sugar added to the fruit as it’s used as the drying agent and adds more sweetness to the finished product. Again this is where we see food companies adding stuff to make their product taste better and therefore out sell their rivals. That said, some dried fruit is pure dried fruit and you can tell that by looking at the label, if the ingredients just have one thing (the fruit) then it’s good to go

Cranberries are sour so I'd doubtful that you'll be able to buy unsweetened cranberries to have on their own. If they were sold no one would buy them as they'd taste horrible, even if added to a homemade granola or some other dish they just wouldn't be good, however, you can get them sweetened in 100% natural apple juice so they, and I'd imagine other bitter fruits, are available clean too.

I hope you enjoy this dish, as always we'd love to see your pictures and get your feedback.

Lots of Love