Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Channeling the Creativity Gods...

When it comes to kitchen creativity, not all days are created equal.

Some days the Foodie wheels in your brain are cranking in over-drive, inspiring dishes like Garlic and Pine Nut Bean Dip or S'More Bar Cookies. These are the days you can wait for leftover lunches the next day, and you delight in e-mailing the recipe to everyone you know. Culinary success! Move over Ina Garten: There's a new girl in town.

Sometimes, however, dry toast represents the outer limits of your creativity for the day. Where is the inspiration?! Why aren't the cookbooks talking to me?! Somebody phone Julia Childs and send HELP!

Over-dramatic, I know. But the key point remains: In the creativity department, today was a dry toast kind of day.

Today's recipe is a deliciously vegetarian pilaf, made from a combo of both bulgur and quinoa (we didn't have enough of each grain alone, so we just combined everything we had of each). Although the pilaf is truly scrumptious, I merely wanted to warn you that it reminds me of a combination of all the other grain salads and pilafs I've posted before. Delicious recipe, but lacking in the thrilling "Wow! This is new and completely different!" factor.

Regardless, it's healthy, crunchy, veggie-ful, and quite tasty. If you use veggie broth, it's also completely vegan. I enjoyed my pilaf simply as the recipe stated, no add-ins necessary.

So, may we raise our glasses to an evening of healthy, delicious food, and a mind utterly lacking in recipe originality. Looks like Ina Garten doesn't have anything to worry about after all :)

Quinoa n' Bulgur Pilaf with Nuts, Fruit, and Veggies
(Adapted from a recipe in Clean Eating Magazine)

The original recipe actually calls for a grain called "Farro." Although I was super excited to try it, I was disappointed to find that they don't sell it in our town! Perhaps on our next road trip to Pittsburgh we'll be able to pick some up. If you have Farro on hand though, by all means try it with this recipe!

  • 4 cups of veggie broth or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup of red quinoa
  • 1 cup of bulgur
  • 3/4 cup of chopped, toasted almonds or pine nuts
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

1) Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan. Add bulgur and quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until grains are fully cooked. Pour grains into a strainer, reserving extra liquid in a bowl.

2) While grains are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery, and saute until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, cranberries, apricots, salt, and pepper. Saute for 2 more minutes.

3) Add veggie mixture, nuts, and 2/3 cup of reserved broth to the grains. Stir to combine. Allow to sit, covered for about 10 minutes to ensure that all liquid is absorbed.


  1. I get stuck in that rut sometimes too. It frustrates me because sometimes no matter what others suggest, I have to just "feel" it myself for the inspiration. I haven't made a pilaf for quite sometime, so this might have me saying, "Wow! That was different" after all :)

  2. I also can get into that rut. Especially when it comes to baking. I love baking bread, but after a few weeks of creativity, I hit a wall, and I just end up making loaf after loaf of honey whole wheat. It's tasty, but nothing exciting. However, this sounds like it is a filling, nutritious and flavorful meal...and we all need more of those!

  3. I really like adding dried fruits in a stir fry dish, and this looks delicious. It may be a rut for you, but this looks dang good to me!

  4. That looks so good! I bet those cranberries would give it a nice sweet kick. I love quinoa, and I'm always looking for new ways to use it! Yummy!

  5. This looks really good -- I love recipes with dried cranberries -- they make any dish delicious. I'll have to look for Farro -- I've heard of it but never used it.

  6. I love Eating Clean Magazine. I don't buy it regularly... but when I do I am always pleased. I have three types of quinoa right now (white, red and black) so this recipe would be great to try out!

  7. BOOKMARKED!! This is going to be so perfect for the holidays!! I think I may bring it to my company xmas party...I know everyone will love it! Ill let you know how they like it ;)

  8. i hear ya... i love cooking but sometimes i just get tired and can't think about it. this recipe looks amazing though!

  9. This looks both tasty and hearty! Will have to see if the fancy grocery store nearby (aka my favorite destination!) has farro in the bulk section. I've heard of it, but that's about it!