A powerhouse of a pilaf

I wanted something fairly quick to make for tea so I went for this red and yellow pepper pilaf in ‘The 30-minute cook’ by Nigel Slater.  Unlike some other ‘fast’ cook books out there I actually have a reasonable chance of hitting the 30 minute mark with this one.  If you’re a savvy organised cook (which I am most definitely not) you can probably hit the 30 minute mark with ease.  I can usually add at least 15 and sometimes 30 minutes onto that and so generally tend to avoid recipes during the week which say they take up to an hour or more, otherwise we’d end up eating at 9pm (which we used to do and frequently).

This recipe also bode well for me as it presented the opportunity to use up the last of the harissa (Hurrah! It’s gone!).  I also wanted to try and make a dent in the packet of amaranth that had been in the back of the cupboard for so long I was thinking of enrolling it onto the electoral register.  ‘Amaranth?’ I hear you cry! ‘Never even heard of it!’.  Neither had I till I spotted it in the bargain basket in the deli.  I thought ‘I’ve no idea what to do with this but I’ll figure it out later’.  Later turned out to be about 4 years.  Amaranth is a South American seed packed with protein and other goodness.  Yotam (always reliable Yotam) has a few ideas online including using it to coat fish cakes.  There’s also lots of recipes using amaranth flour which are obviously no good to me.  I have tried to use it to coat fish cakes.  You’re supposed to pop it first.  Unfortunately, I think maybe because mine is so old, I didn’t get any popping and instead the seeds burnt.   I had to throw them out.  The amaranth, still raging hot from the pan, melted through the plastic in the bin like alien blood through the Nostromo (you know? THE Alien? From 1979).  The few seeds that did pop looked so cute.  Like miniature popcorn.

For the pilaf instead of all bulgar or all quinoa I used a mix of red and white quinoa, bulgar and amaranth.  You can swop out a quarter of the grains for amaranth because cooked on it’s own amaranth could be used to put up wallpaper.  The other grains dilute the stickiness so to speak.  And I used harissa instead of a chilli.  And what to do with the rest of the amaranth?  There are some good ideas on the Kitchn website.  I’ll definitely be adding it to soups to thicken them up but might wait till I get a new packet before trying to pop them again.


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