Remember how I said (here) that my kitchen cupboards are filled with things like exotic grains and that I’d soon be cooking through my cupboards, so to speak? Well, today I present organic Bolivian Canahua (pronounced “kaniwa”).

Very similar to its cousin quinoa, canahua is a hearty grain that grows in the mountains of the Andes and is virtually unknown outside the high regions of Bolivia and Peru. Like quinoa, it’s high in protein and has a complete amino acid profile. But, it’s a little better. You know how you need to wash quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter saponins? Well, with canahua it’s not necessary. No saponins and no bitter taste. It’s considered the “Cadillac of Grains”.

Roasted and often ground, canahua is traditionally used as a thickener or protein additive to soups, stews, porridge, desserts, and drinks like smoothies.

Here, I’ve paired it with vegetables, herbs, and another bag of grains in my cupboards, mixed basmati and wild rice. If you can’t find canahua, no worries, this recipe will also work with quinoa, in any of it’s varieties—white, red or black.

Bolivian Canahua Pilaf
Serves about 4-6

4 large or six slender carrots
3-4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed and divided
salt and black pepper
½ cup canahua
½ cup mixed basmati and wild rice
4 green onions, sliced, green and white parts separated
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into half inch slices
2 tablespoons sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sorrel leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons oregano, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped and more for garnish
2-4 limes, juice and zest

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut carrots at a diagonal, about 1/4–in thick. In a baking pan lined with parchment paper, toss carrots with 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 cloves garlic, and salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Cook canahua (or quinoa) and basmati and wild rice according to package directions. When cooked, but still a little warm, combine canahua and rice blend in a large bowl.

In a sauce pan, heat the remaining (2-3 tablespoons) coconut oil, garlic, and white parts of green onions. Sauté until fragrant, about a minute or less. Add bell peppers and sauté another 30 seconds. Add sage, sorrel and oregano, and sauté another 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the herbs, and the peppers should be slightly softened but still firm. Add herb mixture to canahua and rice blend.

Add roasted carrots, including any oil in pan, to the canahua mixture. Add mint, green onions (green parts), zest and juice of 2 limes, and salt and pepper. Toss well, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lime juice/zest and salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature and garnish with mint leaves and green parts of green onions.

Notes: Each time I’ve made this dish I’ve tried variations, adding golden raisins, dried cranberries, or slivered almonds. Next time I might try capers. Feel free to experiment and if you come up with any great additions/variations, please let me know.

Sorrel leaves add a lemony flavor. If you can’t find them, feel free to substitute with fresh lemon juice. It can be added with the lime juice.

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