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I may have impulse bought a 4 lb. bag of quinoa from Costco the other week. Today I felt comfortable enough to try using quinoa instead of couscous in a highly butchered version of the way my Libyan mother-in-law cooks it. (Hers involves lamb, and more vegetables that I didn't have on hand, and probably some other things I don't know. It's delicious.)

The most important part of this recipe is a spice mixture called b'zaar. There are probably different ways of making it (just as there are different ways of making any curry powder.) If you have the ingredients, I highly recommend making some and using it in things like lentils, couscous, etc. It's nommy. However, in a pinch you could probably substitute another pre-made curry powder.

B'zaar (Libyan Curry Mix)
NOTE: The first is to make a LARGE batch of the mixture; the second is for a smaller test batch to see if you like the flavor.

1 cup ground tumeric
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup ground nutmeg
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 cup ground ginger

For a small batch
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. ground tumeric
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger

mix and store in a cool, dry place for cooking

Libyan Style Quinoa


1/2 cup quinoa (dry)
1 cup water
1-2 tbsp. canola or olive oil
1/2 onion cut into strips
approx. 1-1.5 tbsp. b'zaar (to taste)
3 small squash or 1-2 large squash, sliced (preferably those labelled "cousa", which are a Middle Eastern variety, if you can find them)
4 small tomatoes or equivalent, cubed
1 tsp. dried parsley
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup almond slices, if desired

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil on medium heat and add onions to skillet. Add about 1 tbsp. of b'zaar (or enough so that the onion turns yellow and has some spice covering it, but not so much that it is coated.) Saute until just beginning to soften, then add sliced squash. Add another dash of b'zaar to the squash. Sauté a few minutes more, and if the squash is still firm when poked with a fork, cover the wok or skillet with a spare lid and lower the heat so that the squash steams. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When squash is soft and semi-translucent around the edges, add parsley, lemon juice, and tomato. Saute uncovered for another minute or two, then add cooked quinoa and almond slices. Saute another minute or two to let the quinoa absorb the flavor, then serve hot.

Cook's note: you can vary what vegetables you put in the mix depending on what's in season and/or what needs to be eaten in your fridge. Chick peas or other beans would also make a nice addition.

Libyan style quinoa
Picture of finished Libyan Style Quinoa in a wok
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