COLORFUL AND NUTRIENT-PACKED QUINOA PILAF WITH PEPPERS, BACON AND PISTACHIOS.
Today is Latina Cook-Off day, and this recipe was created for the challenge. It´s very exciting to be part of such a creative community of food blogueras! But first, let me tell you that pistachios are not very common in Peruvian cuisine. We find them mainly as an ice cream flavor and in other fancy desserts. They are rare and expensive, (their price is really astronomical).I´m telling you this because Pistachios and Bacon are the secret ingredients that had to be used today.
However, bacon is a completely different story. We love it and add it to dozens of recipes, and have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between (well, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration). I agree with chefs that praise bacon as the best flavor enhancer in any recipe, even desserts. Have you tried chocolate bars with tiny pieces of bacon? Oh my gosh, they´re awesome! As I write this, I´m thinking of my vegetarian daughter, and I´m sure that she would not be happy with this, so let´s better get back to our recipe.
I had different thoughts for this post. Salad? No. Pasta? No. Rice?Maybe. A lovely rice pilaf with veggies, pistachios, bacon, spices. Why not? However, our blog is about Peruvian delights, and what is more Peruvian (and delightful) than our supergrain, the almighty Quinoa? (Actually Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, but that´s a story for another post). So I thought of this recipe using what I had in the fridge and in the pantry: white and red Quinoa; red, orange, and yellow bell peppers; onion; cinnamon sticks; chili flakes; turkey bacon; lemon rind; pistachios; herbs. It may look complicated because of the variety of ingredients, but it´s not, and you can play with the recipe and change the vegetables or the seasonings as it pleases you. Be creative!
Serve this pilaf as an entree or a side dish, with chicken, steak, pork, or some grilled vegetables on the side. Or if you skip the bacon, it is also a wonderful and nutritious vegetarian meal.
QUINOA PILAF WITH PISTACHIOS AND CARAMELIZED BACON (Serves 4 as a side dish)
1 cup white Quinoa, rinsed
¼ cup red Quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper
¼ cup red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup orange bell pepper, diced
¼ cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, mashed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 bacon slices, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 lemon rind, finely shredded
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup pistachios, toasted in a dry pan until fragant
*For the Quinoa: In a saucepan combine Quinoas, cinnamon stick, chili flakes, salt, pepper, water or stock. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20 minutes over low heat. Reserve.
*Blanch the lemon rind in boiling water, (add to a pan of boiling water with 1 tablespoon sugar for 5 minutes). Reserve.
*Heat a skillet and add the bacon, stir until it is golden but not crispy. Discard the fat, add 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons sugar, and cook over high heat, stirring often until caramelized. Turn off the heat and reserve.
*In a pan large enough to accommodate everything, heat the oil, add onion, garlic,and peppers, and saute until soft. Add Quinoa, caramelized bacon, and lemon rind, cooking until very hot.
*Serve in a dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley, chives, and toasted pistachios.