There are two kinds of people: turkey people and sides people. I'm decidedly sides people, and this is one of my favorite sides to make for my kind of people. (We call them "sides" in obnoxious air quotes, by the way, because we know they're the main deal, don't we?)
Fluffy quinoa topped with caramelized onions, dried cranberries, and a few pinches of evocative autumn spices, and you've got a wonderful base for seasonal roasted vegetables (or roast chicken, whatever floats your boat). You can customize the quinoa to your liking, because there are also two kinds of people: mushy rice/grain people and dry rice/grain people. (Only one of you is right, but this is a non-judgmental space, so I'll just keep it to myself, cough obviously mushy cough.) This recipe works beautifully with other longer-cooking whole grains, like wild rice, brown rice, or pearled barley. You can also substitute the cranberries with another dried fruit, like raisins, currants, or sour cherries.
Sharing this recipe also gives me the opportunity to extol the virtues of my pre-Instant Pot multi-cooker, which I am deeply in love with. My mom bought it for me rather randomly at Costco before the whole IP thing broke, and it's ostensibly a rice cooker with add-ons. Except it's really more like a multi-cooker that also handles rice really well. I'm an IP fan, but I would choose my rice cooker any day if I had to pick one. It has the saute feature, it's a great slow cooker, and the thing has never met a grain it couldn't cook to perfection. We don't eat a ton of rice-type items, and I still use it constantly. My cooker makes my (nice and mushy) quinoa in about 30 minutes, but on the stovetop give it another 10 minutes or so over a low frame so the grain can soak in the moisture.
Quinoa with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries (parve)
- Rice cooker, optional
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3 cups water (reduce by ½ cup for drier quinoa)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced - or 2 small-medium onions
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- pinch allspice
- pinch ground white or black pepper
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
Prepare the quinoa:
- In a rice cooker or a pot on the stovetop, place the quinoa and water. If using a rice cooker, set to "brown rice" or "whole grain" setting; it should take about 30-35 minutes for the quinoa to cook. If making on the stovetop, bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the onion topping:
- In a wide frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. When hot, add the sliced onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the flame to medium-low and continue to cook until the onion is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
- Season the onions with the salt, cinnamon, allspice, thyme, allspice, and pepper. Stir well.
- Add the cranberries and cook for another 30 seconds, until slightly plumped and just a bit softened. Set aside.
Assemble the dish:
- Arrange the quinoa in a serving dish, and spoon the caramelized onion and cranberries on top.