Cooking with fresh cranberries at this time of year just feels right. Their vibrant ruby color creates a festive mood. In this case, paired with tri-color quinoa, apple, and a touch of honey, they help create a healthy, protein-packed dish that is not only a delicious side dish for your dinner or holiday table but also makes for a great light lunch option too.
What I love most about fresh cranberries in addition to their beautiful color, is their tartness. The key is to balance the pucker-factor. In this case, the acidity of lemon juice and sweetness of honey create a nice balance.
Speaking of honey, I used an orange-essence infused honey by Honey Acres from this month's Degustabox. It actually came as one of those honey straws you would typically serve with hot tea or in a to-go situation. There are a bunch of essence-infused honey straws available in addition to the orange flavor such as lemon, chocolate mint, raspberry, and clover. It's pure raw honey with real extracts, not dubious "flavoring."
I decided to use the orange honey to heighten the citrus notes but not go too lemony. If you don't just happen to have a honey straw around to make this dish, no problem. One honey straw is approximately 3/4 teaspoon of honey. And yes, traditional honey will do fine as a substitute.
Cranberry Apple Quinoa Pilaf with Orange Honey
- 1 cup tri-color quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons white onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Macintosh apple, finely chopped
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon orange essence infused honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a medium-sized saucepan heat 1 cup water and 1 cup of dry quinoa. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the apple and fresh cranberries. Cook, frequently stirring around the pan, until the cranberries just burst.
- In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa and fruit mixture. Pour the lemon juice over the top. Season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Drizzle orange-infused honey over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.
Photos by Renato Ghio