Quinoa Pilaf


quinoa pilaf with roasted pecan

cooked quinoa pilaf with roasted pecan

There are many ways to prepare quinoa, which I have eaten for years and it has recently become trendy, as a one-dish meal, a side dish or can be used in a creative salad.

Cooked quinoa takes on flavour of any dish it is served with, very well.  It is fluffier than rice once cooked and packs a powerful 20 percent of complete amino acids, the most of any grains & seeds.

As long as I prepare it as a side dish as in place of rice,  I like the ratio 1 part quinoa:1.5 part  liquid;  anything else thrown in is a bonus.

Here is one simple way that I often prepare and serve it as a side dish which many friends have enjoyed.  You can easily double or triple this recipe.

Quinoa pilaf

4 servings, as a side dish.


1 cup quinoa, well washed & drained

1.5 cup hot liquid, water/full-strength vegetable broth/well-diluted chicken broth

.5 medium-size white onion, chopped

a bunch of curly parsley, washed & finely chopped

(green onion works well, green and white part, thinly chopped)

a hand full roasted nuts, chopped pecan/chopped walnut/whole pine nuts

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

salt to taste

special equipment: a fine mesh sieve/strainer


1. Thoroughly wash the quinoa using a fine mesh sieve, set aside to dry, at least 20 minutes before cooking.

2. Wash the herb, set aside to dry.  Roast the nuts, set aside to cool.  Heat the liquid in a microwave or let it simmer over a stove top.

3. Chopped the onion.

4. Sauté onion in olive oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat  until the onion well coated and slightly soften, a few minutes.

5. Mix in the prepared quinoa,  and sauté until a nutty aroma comes out, about 5 minutes.

sautéing quinoa and chopped white onion in olive oil

sautéing quinoa and chopped white onion in olive oil

6. Carefully pour in the prepared liquid for it might splash.  Bring it to a boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer, well covered.

You might want to season it lightly with sea salt at this point, to your taste.  Let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

7. In the meantime, chop the herb & the roasted nut.

8. Throw in the chopped herb in the last 5 minutes of cooking and put the cover back on.  If you use fresh cilantro, mix it in at the last-minute just before serving.

9. Turn off the heat.  Leave it cover for 5 minutes more or so.

10.  Mix in half the nut and fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Serve immediately or cover to keep warm and serve later.  Pass the rest of the nut around the table.  Season with if necessary.

cooked quinoa adorned with chopped parsley & roasted walnuts

cooked quinoa adorned with chopped parsley & roasted walnuts

Here is a close-up of another batch of quinoa pilaf prepared at my friend Alice’s using the antique pot passed down from her late mother:

quinoa pilaf with roasted walnuts

quinoa pilaf with roasted walnuts

As with any cooked grains leftover stored in the fridge tends to become hard so it’s no different with quinoa.  Just reheat it slowly in a microwave at low-powered setting for a few minutes to bring it back to taste.  You can even mix in a teaspoon or two of water to moisten if it seemed too hard.

I had wonderful leftover quinoa with a fried egg mixed in turning it to a delicious one-dish meal.  On occasions I brought it out to room temperature and added it in a green salad.  Once I put leftover in a clear soup to give the soup some body and added flavour.  The variation is endless.

Enjoy this quinoa pilaf with cilantro served alongside roasted Meyer lemon chicken and sautéed baby spinach.

quinoa pilaf served as side dish with roasted Meyer chicken & sautéed baby spinach

quinoa pilaf served as side dish with roasted Meyer lemon chicken & sautéed baby spinach