I’ve been reading about alkaline diets recently , and even though we think we eat quite healthily, mostly gluten-free and vegetarian, there always seems to be an extra step – another reason to improve our diets. I invited some alkaline friends to dinner and played around with a pilaf using quinoa instead of rice or bulgur. I wanted to make something that was as delicious as the original recipe but using alkaline ingredients.
I was worried the quinoa would be pappy and wet so I fried it with onions and celery and then cooked it for only 10 minutes and left it to relax. It was served it with roasted cauliflower and butternut with almond sauce drizzled over. The pilaf was perfect, a very slight nuttiness to the quiona and the roasted almonds gave a bonus crunch.
The almond butter sauce was alkaline riff on tahini sauce. Tahini doesn’t seem to be on the alkaline list but the almond butter was delicious and worked just as well.
Quinoa, Butternut and Cauliflower Pilaf with Almond Sauce
1 medium cauliflower
olive oil to drizzle
125g blanched almonds
1tsp cumin seeds
about 500g butternut squash or pumpkin
half a cinnamon stick
olive oil to drizzle
2 stems celery
olive oil to cover bottom of pan
a pinch of saffron, soaked in warm water
half tsp ground allspice
450mls water or veg stock including the saffron infused water
a handful chopped coriander
2 cloves garlic
juice 1 lemon
1 heaped tbs almond butter
water to thin
Heat the oven 200c
Put the saffron into a small jug or glass and cover with hot water. Leave aside to infuse
Cut the butternut into 1cm slices, peel and cut each piece into 2 or 3.
Put into a large bowl, drizzle with oil oil, season with a little salt and toss well. Break the cinnamon stick into 2, lengthwise then toss with the pumpkin. Tip into a roasting tray and put in the oven.. Shake very 15 minutes until cooked, roughly 3 times
Wash the cauliflower, shake dry and break into florets. The bigger florets will need dividing. Put them into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, Zest the lemon, finely, over the cauliflower. Season with a salt and toss everything well together. Drizzle over a little more olive oil if needed. Tip the cauliflower into a roasting tray and spread out evenly. Put the almonds into the bowl and toss them in the residue of the oil then scatter on top of the cauliflower. Put into the oven and roast for 30 mins. Shake after 15.
Peel and chop the onions. Heat a large skillet with a lid or a saucepan. Add a little olive oil and the onions. Cook on medium heat.
Cut the celery into 3 or 4 lengthwise then dice into half cm pieces. Add to the onion. Season with a little salt. Increase the heat so it’s all sizzling and then cook for five minutes without letting them brown.
Stir in the quinoa and the ground allspice and cook for couple of minutes, stirring all the time. Add 450mls liquid. This needs to be the saffron infused water plus water or vegetable stock to bring it up to the 450ml mark. Bring to the boil, add a little salt if you used only water, cover with a lid and turn the lowest simmer for 10 minutes. Take off of the heat but do not open the lid. Very important, no peeking as the quinoa needs to relax and absorb the steam.
Leave fro 5-10 minutes. When the veg are cooked, stir in the cauliflower and arrange the butternut on top.
Sprinkle a little chopped coriander over the top.
To make the Almond Sauce
Put the juice of one lemon, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic and a big spoonful of almond butter into a bowl with a pich of salt and mix well. It will thickens as it mixes so have some cold water handy to thin it out. Thin with a little water at a time until you have a thick cream pouring consistency.
Serve alongside the pilaf to drizzle over.