Spiced Dried Fruit Quinoa (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Interestingly quinoa is in the family of beets and spinach and originated in South America. It was a staple dish in the Andes, secondary to potatoes. Quinoa is a wonderful grain for vegetarians since it is high in protein and essential amino acids, unlike rice. A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it.

This dish is a Middle Eastern delight with dried apricots and dates enhanced with the aromatic flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger giving this quinoa a rich warm and slightly sweet flavor. In fact it is sweet enough for a dessert, but I suggest it served with a curried vegetable dish. With this dish you are transported with flavors from around the world into your home. This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewarts, Cinnamon Scented Couscous. I find that most dishes that ask for couscous can be easily adapted for quinoa, a gluten free grain.
Serves 6

1/3 cup almonds, slivered

3 cups water

2/3 cup dates, diced

1/3 cup  dried apricots, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ½ cups quinoa

                      1      Preheat over to 350°F
                      2      Toast almonds in baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring once.
                      3      Combine water, dates, apricots, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, salt, oil  and quinoa in a medium  saucepan under a medium high flame.
                      4      Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
                     5      Stir in almonds and serve.

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