Turkish Quinoa Pilaf With Chickpeas, Kale and Pomegranate

by | Nov 16, 2008

A couple weeks ago the New York Times health section featured several recipes using quinoa (keen-wah), a small, round ancient seed from Peru that can be used much like a cereal grain.

Because I had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to make this recipe for Quinoa Pilaf With Chickpeas, Pomegranate and Spices. I must admit, while it sounded good I did not expect to like it as much as I did.
I did not have an onion, but I had leeks so I used them instead. This made the recipe faster since leeks only require 1-2 minutes of cooking before additional ingredients are added.
Also, I do not have a spice grinder so I added slightly smaller amounts of already ground spices instead of toasting and grinding them myself. I just eye-balled the amounts using a teaspoon measure.
The recipe says that canned chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are fine, but I prefer to make my own. In my opinion, homemade beans are much better than canned. However, I have the luxury of having a pressure cooker in the house, which reduces cooking time for beans to about 25 minutes (including depressurization). Otherwise beans require at least an hour to cook. They also require several hours of soaking. Since beans are one of my most reliable and affordable protein sources, this process is worth it for me. If you would rather just crack open a can, that is your call.
Finally, I wanted a little more green in my meal so I steamed half a bunch of dinosaur kale. To prepare, I cut it up into bite sized pieces and steamed it for 8-10 minutes. I salted it then added it to the quinoa after I added the chickpeas. I strongly recommend adding kale if you plan to use this recipe as a main course. It was delicious!
Adaptation of New York Times Quinoa with Chickpeas, Pomegranate and Spices (with kale):
  • 1 teaspoon(ish) cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon(ish) coriander
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 c. dry)
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas (canned are fine), rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Rinse and chop kale and place in steam basket over shallow water. Cover and steam 8-10 minutes. This step is particularly important for dinosaur kale, which can be very tough. If you are using traditional kale, reduce cooking time accordingly. Cook until tender then sprinkle with sea salt.

Adjust a frying pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the leek and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and salt, stir together for about half a minute, and stir in the cumin and coriander. Add the remaining olive oil and stir in the quinoa, chick peas, kale and 3 tablespoons of the pomegranate seeds. Stir over medium heat to heat through, several minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
Transfer to a platter or wide bowl and decorate with the remaining pomegranate seeds. You can also mold the pilaf into 1/2-cup ramekins or timbales and unmold onto the plate, then decorate with pomegranate seeds.
Leftover pilaf can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Picture above was after 3 days, and it was still beautiful. Only the pomegranate seeds started losing color after awhile, but they were still tasty. Reheat 1-2 minutes in the microwave.
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10 Responses to “Turkish Quinoa Pilaf With Chickpeas, Kale and Pomegranate”

  1. tbone says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    Who uses the words pilaf, timbale, and ramekin all in 1 sentance?! (and what do those words mean?)

  3. Michelle says:

    So many of my favorite ingredients, all together. Sounds like a great combination. I never know what to do with pomegranates!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I seems like you always use pomegranates as a garnish to another dish- why is that? Is it possible to have pomegranates seeds as the centerpiece? And I’m not talking about POM…….

  5. Anonymous says:

    According to dictionary.com….Pilaf-rice cooked in a meat or poultry broth.Timbale-a small shell made of batter, fried usually in a timbale iron.Ramekin-a small dish in which food can be baked and served.I’m not sure if I understand the usage of timbale here…..

  6. michael says:

    Happy birthday Darya! 11/18/2008.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So I’m curious, would you describe this meal as savory, sweet, or salty? I’d be curious to hear you describe your taste sensations along with your recipes. It looks so filling and yummy!

  8. Darya Pino says:

    anon1:It’s the NYTimes, that’s who. Elitism at its finest.—–anon2:Pomegranates to me are kind of a like a seed or nut, that happens to be fruit! They are a little crunchy and chewy to make as the centerpiece of a dish. But they have the ability to make a regular dish extraordinary.—–anon4:Savory! The spices of cumin and corriander reminded me of the Mediterranean. There is also onions and garlic. I really recommend you try it and see!—–michael:Thanks! It was a great one!!

  9. maggafers says:

    i am not much of a cook, but loooove food. i found this recipe easy to make and absolutely delicious!! YUM, and thank you!

  10. Darya Pino says:

    maggafers:Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!!

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