Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 18, 2009: Wokked-up cashews, quinoa and pineapple

I bought a pineapple. A whole one. I'm not sure why I picked a surly, spiny whole one when there were neat little containers of cored and chopped pineapple flesh sitting nearby; perhaps I hoped it'd keep me company in the kitchen for a couple of days while Michael's away. Perhaps I thought it was something that Michael would disapprove of - on several of our early dates we ate at a cheap Malaysian restaurant where Michael was a regular, and he consistently ordered the satay and picked out all the pineapple chunks. He has since protested that he's not an across-the-board pineapple hater, but I can't remember ever seeing him eat it and the conviction lingers in the back of my mind.

So I can't help thinking that this is a meal that Michael would disapprove of. He shouldn't - it's filling yet summery, fits into his favourite wok, and uses the combination of pineapple and chilli to great effect. Never tried pineapple and chilli together? Neither had I, but it is mouth-tinglingly good.

This is Veganomicon's Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry and though it was many good things, it wasn't a quick meal. The quinoa's to be cooked and cooled ahead of time, as you would for fried rice. I'm something of a slow chopper, and inexpertly cutting down that pineapple was quite a task. Finally, the recipe recommends about 20 minutes cooking time all up, not exactly the quick-and-hot in-and-out that stir-fries are supposed to be. I sped up this phase, as I like to keep my veges crunchy. I made a couple of substitutions, too - orange juice masqueraded as pineapple juice, and I preferred the latest crop of sugar snap peas to Veganomicon's frozen peas.

Wokked-up cashews, quinoa and pineapple
(based on the Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry in Veganomicon)

1 cup quinoa
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon + 3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
120g cashews, raw and unsalted
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 spring onions, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chilli, chopped finely
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons mint, chopped finely
2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
lime wedges, to garnish

Rinse and drain the quinoa, than plonk it into a medium-sized saucepan. Pour over the orange juice, water, and 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce. Pop the lid on and put the saucepan on high heat, bringing the quinoa to boil. Give it a little stir, put the lid back on, and turn down the heat to medium-low; cook the quinoa until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid, give the quinoa a gentle stir, and let it cool. Store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook, preferrably overnight.

In a cup or small bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons soy sauce, stock and rice wine vinegar. Set it aside.

Put a wok or very large frypan on low heat and toast the cashews in it, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Set the cashews aside.

Turn the wok/frypan heat up to medium and toss in the peanut oil, spring onions and garlic. When it's all sizzling, add the chilli and ginger. Stir-fry it all for a minute or two, then add the capsicum and sugar snap peas. Stir-fry for another minute or two, until the vegetables are bright and glistening, then stir through the basil and mint. Add the pineapple and quinoa, using your spatula to break up any quinoa chunks. Stir-fry for just a minute, then pour over the stock mixture and stir it through. Continue to stir-fry just until everything is hot and well-combined.

Scoop the stir-fry into bowls, sprinkling over the cashews and serving lime wedges on the side.


  1. I bought a pineapple on impulse just a couple of days ago - they look so lovely and when on special are hard to resist - then you need to chop them up and it seems less of a joy - am still swithering about what to do with mine - was thinking fruit salad again but you are now making me thing savoury sounds good!

  2. Pineapple? Stirfried with quinoa? Hmm, I have to admit to being suspicious as well. I'm a fresh pineapple lover, but often find it just doesn't work with savoury flavours.

    However Cindy, you've steered me to some wonderful flavours, recipes (and Melbourne cafes) in the past, so am thinking I should overcome my prejudice and try out your stir-fry. At least once.

  3. I was so homesick last week that I spent an obscene amount of money on a Costa Rican pineapple... but oh! it was SO good.

    Home in two weeks, hurrah! I'm craving summer fruits like you wouldn't believe..

    PS.. how funny - the word verification is "prator" and the city I'm living in is called Prato!

  4. Exactly Kathryn, exactly! Pineapple is fine, you just shouldn't put it on pizzas or in curries etc. It's not a savoury food!

  5. I'm with Michael and Kathryn! Not a fan of pineapple in savory food. Great in fruit salad, or alcoholic beverages, but thats it! Chilli and pineapple does sound interesting though!

  6. That looks and sounds amazing. I like the sound of your modifications.

  7. Hmmm, the pineapple does seem to be a controversial ingredient!

    Johanna, with a whole pineapple you could always devote a bit each to sweet and savoury. :-)

    Kathryn, I'd be curious to know what you thought after you tasted it!

    Hiya Liz! I am trying to make the most of those gorgeous summer fruits... I'm sure they'll stick around long enough for you to enjoy them too. :-)

    Maria, if you're interested in trying pineapple and chilli but don't like the savoury angle, this recipe could be for you. :-)

    Thanks, Anna!

  8. i have to say, this particular veganomicon recipe is one of my favorites! i usually end up buying canned pineapple for pizzas and freezing the juice to make quinoa at a later date.

  9. Welcome, Josh! I'd like to make this more often but it's difficult to convince Michael that pineapple makes a good dinner. :-P