Wild rice-quinoa-dried cherry pilaf

This is a great fall/winter pilaf with lots of texture and flavor variations. I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner to have something a little different. It was a hit!

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For this recipe, you’ll need: 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice; 1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth; 2 sprigs of fresh thyme; 1/2 cup uncooked white quinoa; 2 to 3 stalks of celery; 1 cup dried fruit (such as cherries or a mix); 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 1/4 to 1/3 cup of a fruity balsamic vinegar (I used peach balsamic vinegar); 3/4 teaspoon salt.

First, rinse the wild rice in a strainer.

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Combine the mushroom broth and about 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add the wild rice and thyme leaves, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

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Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the rice is plump and tender, and has absorbed most of the liquid. (This should take about 35 to 40 minutes.)

While the rice is cooking, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear. While many recipes don’t call for this step, I’ve found that it makes the quinoa more mellow and less bitter in taste. You can see in this photo, below, how cloudy the water is!

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Getting there, but not quite!

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And voilà, done and ready to cook!

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Drain the quinoa. Pour 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan and add the quinoa and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and cover.

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While the quinoa is cooking, chop the dried fruit. I used a blend of dried berries from my local Whole Foods store.

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It includes strawberries, two kinds of cherries, and blueberries, as you can see here:

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Chop them all into equally sized bits.

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After about 10 to 12 minutes, the quinoa should have started to open up into those lovely tendrils.

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Add the chopped fruit to the (almost but not quite fully cooked) quinoa and cover again, turning off the heat.

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By now, the wild rice should be done. Remove from heat, drain any remaining liquid, remove the thyme sprigs, and pour into a large bowl. Rinse the celery stalks and slice very thinly. Add them to the wild rice.

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After about 5 minutes, the dried fruit will have rehydrated. Uncover and stir to blend the fruit and quinoa.

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Add to the wild rice-celery mixture and toss lightly. Add the olive oil and fruity balsamic vinegar and toss again, adding a dash of salt, if desired, to taste. Now it’s ready to serve, either on top of a green salad (arugula, maybe?) or as a side dish with baked goat cheese rounds.

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This dish is simple to make though it’ll take probably about an hour in total, including cooking time. And it was a perfect side for our turkey and other harvest-time dishes at Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

 

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