Quinoa, Spinach and Pumpkin Pilaf

I don't like to tag nor classify people. I reckon the world is the way it is and try to respect all possible thoughts, despite agreeing or not with them. However, when it comes to friendship, I can't stop myself from being rather selective. Don't misunderstand me, I'm obviously not talking about choosing friends - we don't choose this things, is friendship who puts people together. What I'm talking about has to do with the real meaning of the word friend. 

I've recently realized about the changeable quality that characterizes everyone's conception of life, as while we grow up, the way the world exposes to us keeps evolving unpredictably. We usually have a more flexible perception of facts when we are children. We know barely nothing and we design everything the way we want. We give answers to our questions, without minding whether they are right or wrong; and after, we ask elders about their theories just to prove how ordinary and creativeness their minds are. We're evil in this way - true -, but considering our destitute of knowledge, forgiveness becomes our most valuable shield.

Childhood is also when friendship is built for the first time. We are disclosed to an immensity among which can be found those ones who we will befriend someday. It's all part of a process that begins with a feeling of unfamiliarity and puzzlement but that ends up by spinning a highly complex tangle of truth and falsehood, also known as social circle.

And I apology in advance, but it's true: amity can be both wholesome and detrimental. I guess that's because we've perverted the primordial essence of it. These days, we tend to tag everyone we know as "a friend of mine", and that's not something bad - of course not! It's just a common way of saying things. However, when things turn out to be tough and our life is held in a jumble of depression, how many of our "friends" are there trying to cheer us up? And even more important, though as not that easily perceptive, who are the ones who know how to appreciate our joy and make it theirs too?


Think about it. Don't blame yourself for finding out that you just have a few number of them. Listen, our life is built and embellished by hundreds of people, and it's more than clear that all of them have a vital role in it. It doesn't mind whether they are close relatives, friends, mates, or even enemies; because however they contribute to our journey, they do it because they care about us. So there's no reason for feeling bad when being honest with ourselves and assuming which of these hundreds of brilliant life architectures can be considered friends.

Quinoa, Spinach and Pumpkin Pilaf
Is this dimension of thoughts that leads me on to tell you about Aimée, who's actually the reason and origin of the following recipe and the already exposed philosophical reflection. I presume you imagine she is one of those in my life tagged as "a friend". Congrats to you, skilled detectives. I'd say, though, that she is "a most loved friend" (and I thank her for letting me borrow this words from her).

Their parents named her Aimée because there was some kind of underlying force that drove them to do so. She was bound to be named like that even before anyone knowing about her existence. The universe had planned everything in such an admirable accuracy that the invisible (but still there) bow between her name and she, can be appreciated with ease once you get to know her.

As far as friendship is concerned (and I thank her again for her borrowed words), I don't want to tell you anything crucial. I consider you are all well instructed in the affair - mutual comprehension, reciprocal thoughtfulness, shared unforgettable experiences, and so on. What I consider special, or at least anomalous, is the fact that I can't get angry at her. She's the perfect stereotype of what I call a "healthy person", that I can't even picture us fighting. And this is something I love, because it basically shows the ethereal connection we have.

And so here I am, doing this for her. Because I promised her a while ago I'd do this.

Aimée, this is for you - and for your pumpkin toned hair.

Quinoa, Spinach and Pumpkin Pilaf

Serves 4

I've taken the idea from the Green Kitchen Stories' original recipe. However, I've quite changed it a bit, specially because I wanted the ingredients to be fall based and, obviously, it had to contain pumpkin (in honor to Aimée's hair). I also made it simple, I think. Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by the gigantic range of ingredients the recipes are supposed to deal with, and the fact that I usually try to cook with local, seasonal and easy to find ingredients, often leads me on to the creation of simpler versions of the original ideas.

David and Luise cooked with black rice and green lentils whereas I've decided to try with a combination of quinoa and whole grain rice, as suggested on their blog. You can also have a go with other type of grains, whichever you like most or just have on hand (and feel free to do the same with the other ingredients).

If it comes to the salad ingredients I've used, I'd like to remark the contrast between the freshness that gives the pomegranate and the mildness of the honey sweetened pumpkin. In addition, the mix between quinoa and whole grain rice turns out to be fairly soft, so one can taste more the complementary ingredients as well as distinct the different textures the hodgepodge has.

Quinoa and whole grain rice mix

160 g quinoa (preferable soaked)
160 g whole grain rice (preferable soaked)
1 liter water
1 tsp sea salt

Roasted pumpkin

1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp for massaging the spinach leaves
1/2 pumpkin (or any other squash), cut into small cubes
4 tsp runny honey
1 pinch cinnamon (optional)

Salad ingredients

200 g spinach leaves, finely chopped
1 pomegranate, peel removed
1 small handful raw pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
5 dried apricots, coarsely chopped (optional)
125 ml yogurt, to serve

·Preheat the oven to 200 ºC / 400 ºF.
·Rinse and drain quinoa and rice. Then place in a saucepan, add water and salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until tender and all the water has been absorbed.
·Meanwhile, stir together salt, pepper and olive oil. Place the cubed pumpkin and the mixture in an oven-proofed layer and toss to cover. After, sprinkle the honey and the pinch of cinnamon to give sweetness to the squash.
·Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until soft on the inside and slightly browned on the outside.
·Set both the quinoa and the whole grain rice mix and the roasted pumpkin aside to cool.
·Now prepare the salad ingredients. Place the chopped spinach in a medium serving bowl, add olive oil and massage the leaves for a couple of minutes. Add all ingredients and toss to combine. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Quinoa, Spinach and Pumpkin Pilaf


  1. Espectacular tanto las fotos como la receta. Te sigo desde ya mismo!

  2. Encantada de que te guste Esther!