Middle Eastern Spiced Cauliflower, Quinoa and Chickpea Pilaf

Resolutions? What are yours? I am not one to make resolutions.  No one sticks to them anyway, do they? And why do you have to choose the first of the year to start something new? Why can’t I decide on May 5th to stop my bad habit of choice or eat better or drink less or stop being a meanie? (I am a real meanie. . .ask around.)

A lot of people resolve to lose weight for the new year. I resolved to do that about halfway through 2011 and have lost an impressive 49  lbs so far! (It impresses me at least.) In the spirit of making sure the holiday eating doesn’t negate my new jeans size, I’d like to whip up a low calorie dinner for us. (Not to say I don’t still love to bake cakes and cookies and pies and bagels. I love it. And clearly I still do bake those things. A LOT. I just use my new found will power and sample a small piece and then send the rest away. My husband’s co-workers are frequent recipients of treats from my kitchen. You’re welcome, boys.)

If you haven’t already, you NEED to try Middle Eastern food. It is so good. Warm and earthy and spiced to perfection. I could eat Middle Eastern every day.  Hummus, shawarma, kafta, falafel, mujadara, tabbouleh, etc.

I know a wonderful woman who is Egyptian and she makes such delicious dishes. I try to emulate her in the kitchen when I am using all my Middle Eastern spices. (She makes the best rice dish with chicken and orange and great spices. . .I’ll have to master that and share it sometime.)

This dish is easy and filling and can easily be your main dish or a wonderful side dish. It is healthy, full of protein and fiber and low calorie. And after the holiday season I sure can use some of that low calorie stuff!

Quinoa is a seed that is prepared like a grain. Fun fact for you. . .it is closely related to spinach and was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes. It is also high in iron and is a complete protein. You can find it in most grocery stores or health food store. It cooks pretty quickly and is fluffy like rice with a nutty flavor.

On a side note. . this is the new Bodum Cast Iron Wok me darling husband gave me for christmas. I adore it. (And I adore him!)  This is my first attempt at cooking in it and it worked out beautifully. It’s very wide and I see it being a very versatile piece in my kitchen from here on out. The only challenge was finding a big enough place for it to live in my cupboards. It’s huge. . .and heavy enough to kill an ox!

You can play with the amount of spices or add others to this dish if you like. I tend to make it a little different each time as I rarely consult a recipe when cooking, but this is a good jumping off point. Enjoy!

Middle Eastern Spiced Cauliflower, Quinoa and Chickpea Pilaf

1 head cauliflower, finely chopped

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1-2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp garam masala

1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes

1/2 cup quinoa

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup chicken stock or veggie stock or water

Squeeze of juice from half a lemon

3 or 4 green onions, finely sliced (optional)

chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes and then add the cauliflower and all the spices and salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until the cauliflower has softened up.

Add the tomato, quinoa, stock, chickpeas. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low. Cover and cook on low for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of the lemon. Sprinkle with the green onions and cilantro and serve immediately.

It makes delicious leftovers, too!


One response »

  1. What, no WW point break down? Come on:-)
    Looks yum-mmmmmeeeeee!


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