A beautifully vibrant and flavourful vegan quinoa pilaf to celebrate the arrival of Autumn with the Autumnal flavours of pumpkin, pomegranate and persimmon.
Za’atar is one of those good all round spice blends that I like to keep on hand. It is a wonderfully fragrant slightly tart blend of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seeds that pairs so wonderfully with roasted pumpkin.
Here I’ve tossed triangles of butternut pumpkin, referred to as butternut squash by my US readers, in za’atar before roasting. The pumpkin becomes lovely and lightly caramelised as the wonderful aromas of thyme and sumac fill the kitchen.
To go with the roasted pumpkin I’ve paired a lovely quinoa pilaf (sometimes called pilau or pilav) flavoured with subtle notes of cardamom, cinnamon and bay, along with slices of persimmon, chopped pistachio and beautifully jewelled pomegranate seeds.It is the perfect way to finally celebrate the arrival of autumn weather here in Brisbane.
Now that Autumn weather has finally made an appearance the beautiful autumnal tones of this pilaf is the perfect way to celebrate.
If you are new to persimmon this pilaf is a great introduction to this frequently overlooked fruit.
Fuyu persimmons (called Sweet Persimmons here in Australia) are what you are looking for here. Look for fruit that are a beautiful shiny orange without blemishes. And don’t be tempted to squeeze them. Despite appearances, they are actually quite delicate. Flavourwise persimmons are a little hard to describe. I’d say they are somewhere between an apple and a peach but much subtler and with a slight hint of spice.
So tell me, have you tried persimmons? What are your favourite ways to enjoy sweet persimmons?
Quinoa Pilaf with Za’atar Roasted Butternut Pumpkin & Persimmon
- 500 g butternut pumpkin peeled, deseeded and cut into triangles, 1 pound
- 1 1/2 tbs za'atar
- 1 1/2 tbs olive oil
- 1 large shallot diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 3 leaves bay
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable stock
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 a persimmon cut into triangles
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 toasted pistachios roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup coriander roughly torn or chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and toss the pumpkin in half the olive oil and the za'atar with a couple of pinches of sea salt. Spread evenly on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelised.
- Rinse the quinoa well under running water to remove any bitterness and drain. Place a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the remaining oil and the shallot, cinnamon, bay and cardamom pods. Cook until the shallot is lovely and golden. Add the quinoa and cook for a few minutes before adding the vegetable stock and a couple of pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary before adding the lemon zest.
- To serve place the pilaf in a bowl and top with the pumpkin, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and coriander.
If you can't get your hands on persimmon simply omit it from the pilaf, however, it is worth trying to get your hands on one.
Inspired by Za'atar Roasted Chicken with Pilaf from May 2016 Gourmet Traveller