Middle Eastern quinoa with chickpeas, apples and cranberries


By Ilana Meiller

As a new year brings us opportunities for self-improvement, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah propels me to renew some of my cherished recipes, among other things. While planning my holiday menu, this drive for innovation has led me to add apples to this satisfying Middle Eastern quinoa, chickpea and dried cranberry dish, which I developed two years ago. These Mediterranean ingredients in conjunction with apples, parsley and spices are flavorsome, aromatic and colorful.

Quinoa and chickpeas are considered superfoods that are part of the Middle Eastern diet. Both are an excellent source of protein, minerals, fiber and vitamins that, according to some studies, may prevent the progression of various health conditions. It is important to clarify that quinoa is a seed technically classified as a pseudo-cereal grain that is growing in popularity. I’ve used white quinoa and organic canned chickpeas for a quick and simple meal, but you may also discover red, black and tricolor quinoa at the grocery stores.

Apples, a symbolic Rosh Hashanah food, also perfectly complement the other ingredients in this dish. Although apples are usually cooked or baked with fat and spices, I’ve baked them plain and later combined them with the seasoned quinoa, chickpeas and cranberries. In addition, the sweetness of the cranberries (you may use raisins instead) and the freshness of the parsley are accentuated by the earthy/hearty cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. If you still haven’t tried cumin and turmeric, introducing them to your pantry will leave you wanting to travel to the Middle East.

Middle Eastern quinoa
Middle Eastern quinoa (Photo by Ilana Meiller)

The recipe is doubled here, as it goes pretty quickly. Obviously, my family and guests cannot get enough of this dish as a side or a full meal. I hope you love it as well. Shana Tova U’metuka!

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I use vegan)
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 (15 ounces) cans chickpeas
  • 2/3 cup finely diced parsley
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped (Braeburn or Golden Delicious may be used)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread chopped apples on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove apples from oven; put aside.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh colander. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion while stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown. Stir in the salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and cook for an additional 1 minute.

In the same pot, add the quinoa and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and put aside for 10 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, parsley, cranberries (or raisins) and apples to the quinoa. Drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.

Ilana Meiller was born in Israel and works as a school-based mental health professional in Baltimore County.

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