Quinoa with Cranberries, Caramelized Onion, and Toasted Pepitas

Quinoa with Cranberries, Caramelized Onion, and Toasted Pepitas

Fall! Fall is here! It still doesn’t quite feel like it weather-wise here in metro Detroit; we’ve enjoyed a ton of warm, absolutely gorgeous days over the past three weeks. But I am certainly not complaining! Here’s to keeping up this gorgeous-weather streak until my birthday, a little over a week from today!

While it doesn’t entirely feel like fall here yet, I know it is because of the gorgeous, diffused quality of the sunlight that only displays its beauty at this time of year. And because advertisements for pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere. And with the arrival of the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte comes the arrival of fall food. And I LOVE fall food! I love the richness of cold-weather fare, which call for the use of creams and butters, of squash and sweet potatoes, for the making of hearty soups and stews and comfort foods in general. Ahhhhh – so glad to have that aspect back!

This quinoa dish embraces the turn of the season by incorporating such warm-and-cozy ingredients as cranberries, caramelized onion, and toasted pepitas (aka those scrumptious green pumpkin seeds you find in a market’s bulk food section). Despite charring the crap out of the onion slices rather than caramelizing them (yikes! Extra butter and reduced heat is your friend in this case!), this dish turned out really flavorful and lovely – and will be even more lovely when the onion is properly caramelized! And properly caramelizing onions isn’t really that hard if you are vigilant; check out my previous recipe post where this turned out well, Italian Farro with Pesto, Caramelized Onion, and Swiss Chard.

-1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise, and then cut in half across the middle to make smaller slices

-1 tbs. butter, plus more as necessary

-1 cup quinoa

-1 3/4 cups water

-1 tbs. grapeseed oil

-1 cup pepitas

-1/2 cup cranberries

-1/3 cup crumbled feta

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1/2 tsp. black pepper

-1/4 tsp. sage

-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the pepitas with two teaspoons of the grapeseed oil and a fourth of the teaspoon of the salt and layer evenly over a cookie sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 12 to 15 minutes. Once ready, remove pan from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the onion slices and let them cook over medium-low heat for about 35 minutes, stirring them every few minutes, so that they brown but don’t burn. Being vigilant pays here: add more butter to the pan or reduce the heat if they seem like they are starting to burn. Once the 35 minutes has passed, deglaze the onion by adding a fourth of a cup of the water to the pan and mixing it in with the onion slices, letting them absorb the liquid. Remove from heat once finished.

While the onion is caramelizing, add the quinoa and the remaining one teaspoon of the grapeseed oil to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Toast for five minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the remaining one and a half cups of the water (or whatever amount of water is specified per cup of quinoa per its package instructions) and increase the heat so that it’s brought to a boil; once it is, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes.

Once the pepitas, caramelized onions, and quinoa are ready, mix them all together with the cranberries, feta, remaining salt, black pepper, sage, and cayenne pepper. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy the spicy, savory richness of fall! Makes four servings.



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