Bok Choy Quinoa Pilaf

Sometimes I'm inspired by a cooking technique or cuisine. But most of the time I'm inspired by an ingredient. Today's inspiring ingredient: bok choy. In this transition between Winter and Spring, bok choy is a food we can't get enough of. It promotes digestion and gives us a wallop of vitamins and other things that strengthen our immune system. Who doesn't need a bit of Spring cleaning and rejuvenation?

Let me walk you through my thought process as I planned this meal.

I knew I wanted to use the GIGANTIC bok choy I found at the co-op this weekend. I also knew that I wanted it to be our meal and not just a side dish of braised bok choy in soy sauce. Boring!

Cilantro, garlic, and onion called my name from my refrigerator. Hmm... Fresh, light, delicious. I open my cupboard, and I'm all out of rice (thanks to Cilantro Fusion!) but I have a plethora of quinoa. Tada! Meal. Quinoa is high in protein, which makes this dish satisfying.

But... it needed more. How about some lime juice. Cilantro and lime are best friends. And, my carrots are now calling to me for some color and a variety of textures. Speaking of texture, what can I add to bring a little crunch and a little sweetness to this savory dish? Pecans!

Now, I've gathered my ingredients. How am I going to cook it? Will I cook everything separate and toss it together in the end? No. I want something more simple. My thoughts drift back to some pilaf recipes I was reading about the other day, and suddenly the dish came all together in my head. Now, to make a masterpiece.

One of the aspects I really like about Ayurvedic cooking is that a cook must follow her heart. Love is an ingredient that cannot be left out of any meal. While that sounds corny, I do know that when I pour myself into a meal, rarely does it flop. My meals flop when I just follow a recipe, completing one command after another. Maybe that is why I love this recipe so much. It came from a place in me where creativity lives and smiles at me.

Now, I must find some ice cream!

Bok Choy Quinoa Pilaf
4-6 servings, 40 minutes

1 head bok choy
3 medium carrots, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon ghee, butter, or oil
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash the bok choy well. Remove the green leaves from the white stalk. Chop the white stalk and set aside. Chop the green leaves and set aside separately from the white stalk. 
  2. Julienne the carrots and set aside with the green leaves. Mince the garlic and yellow onion.
  3. In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute for a minute or two.
  4. Rinse the quinoa well. Add to the pot along with the white bok choy stalk. Saute for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the 2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the green leaves and carrots. Stir to combine and simmer over medium heat uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. Quinoa is done when tender and most of the water is absorbed. Turn off heat. 
  6. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a small skillet over medium heat, carefully watching so as not to burn them. Remove immediately from pan when lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside.
  7. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper into the bok choy mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
  8. To serve, place the pilaf on a plate and sprinkle pecans on the top. Yum!
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