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


Yesterday early afternoon Sue and I had a baking date. We started off with making ricotta cheese, then proceeded making sourdough pizza dough, baked 2 pizzas for lunch, and ended the session mixing batter for Citrus Ricotta Almond cookies.

sage baby vegs

fresh sage, button shiitake mushroom & baby zucchini

roasted garlic & soft asiago cheese

roasted garlic & soft asiago cheese

Sue brought beautiful roasted garlic bathed in olive oil which she roasted herself, soft Asiago cheese from Farmer Joe’s Marketplace in Oakland, as well as baby spinach & fresh basil (the last two items are not pictured  here.)  I contributed these beautiful finds: button shiitake mushroom, baby zucchini and fresh sage which I purchased at Milk Pail Market just the day before.

Sue made 2 different blends of topping on the same pizza dough.  She placed roasted garlic & drizzled the olive oil, in which the garlic was roasted, all over the whole dough.  On one half  she put thin slices of soft Asiago cheese followed with dried cranberry on top.  On the other half she spread some homemade tomato sauce, and dotted cubes of mozzarella cheese and a few button shiitake mushroom.

roasted garlics on pizza dough

drizzling garlic-roasted olive oil goodness

roasted garlics on pizza dough

spreading homemade tomato sauce

2 pizza in one ready for the oven

cranberry on Asiago half, vegetables on other, drizzling some more oil goodness

Sue was being quite Jackson Pollock in assembling the pizza:

pizza and various toppings

pizza two ways and various toppings

The dough’s quite well dressed and ready to go into the oven, baked for about 5 minutes at 550 degrees F.

pizza ready for oven

ready for the oven

After that we removed the parchment paper so the crust’s bottom cooked better; here we added baby spinach and basil leaves and baked again briefly for a few more minutes.  Et voilà Sue’s masterpiece:

pizza two in one

pizza two in one

And here is my own pizza with slightly different toppings:

ready-for-bake sourdough pizza

ready-for-bake sourdough pizza

sourdough pizza with a few toppings

sourdough pizza with a few toppings

Sue really enjoyed her pizza and save a slice to go to share with her father.  I also send with Sue a frozen pizza dough so she can bake one at home to treat her roommates who adore thin-crust-sourdough-pizza.

Update:  A week later, Sue and her gourmet roomies confirmed that the homemade sourdough crust pizza tastes just as good as those offered at their favorite bakery Arizmendi  in Emeryville.  That’s good to know and I will have to stop by Arizmendi to find out for myself.

rava dosa

Rava dosas, a savory dish that is popular in South India, are crêpes typically made with semolina and rice flours and stuffed with cooked vegetables blended in complex spices that Indian dishes are known for.  I visited a local Indian market a while back and brought home a number of herbs and spices as well as various flours, of which, a white coarse semolina, that has waited to be used.  So when I saw Rava Dosas featured on Gourmet magazine I could not be happier at a chance to make another Indian dish –second actually– that is everything vegetarian.

That evening I also needed something quick (and tasty) for dinner while waiting to turn, shape and bake this bread. Indeed it only took me an hour or so from washing, chopping, cooking the stuffing and a breeze to make the wrappers.   I had some excess sourdough starter (at 100% hydration) so used it in place of the called for all-purpose flour adjusting the amount of water to keep the batter’s consistency as formulated. The batter is very thin; the mixed flour seems to stay at the bottom while the liquid floating above it, so just stir or whisk it well before pouring it into the skillet.  The unused batter can be stored, well covered, in the fridge.  You can halve or double the recipe.  One more thing, you do need a non-stick skillet, absolutely no substitution here unless you don’t mind to wrestle with the dosa and the cooking tool.

I had a delicious meal and plenty more for a few more meals later.  I ate the dosas  stuffed and also unadorned.  The crêpe is quite flavorful –a noticeable sourdough taste– bursting with crunches of cumin seeds.  The filling is  complexly hearty, as expected of Indian food, with the richness of roasted coconut throughout.  It’s definitely a keeper recipe.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

Recipe from November 2009 Gourmet Magazine

Serve 4; Active Time: 40 minutes; Start to Finish: 1 hour

For Masala Filling

    1.5 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
    1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
    2 teaspoons cumin seeds
    1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds
    1 (2 1/2-inch) piece of peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
    3 garlic cloves, smashed
    1 Tablespoon curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 3/4 cups water, divided
    1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
    1 (15 to 19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For Rava Dosas

    1/2 cup semolina flour
    1/2 cup rice flour –I use brown rice flour–
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour   (I use 100 g white starter at 100% hydration, 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour )
    1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups water   (I use 1 3/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons adjusting the water in the starter above)
    Vegetable oil for brushing

Making Masala Filling

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water.

Toast coconut in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out skillet.  Toast cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently, until fragrant and just a shade darker, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to another small bowl.  Reserve skillet.

Purée jalapeño, ginger, and garlic in a blender (I used a small food processor) with curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 tsp salt until smooth.  Transfer purée to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes, then add to onion mixture with cumin seeds and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are barely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, scrapping up any brown bits, then briskly simmer, covered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and cilantro.

Make dosas while potatoes cook

Whisk flours, cumin seeds, salt, and water in a bowl.

Generously brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Pour 1/2 cup batter into skillet, swirling until bottom is coated.  Cook, undisturbed, until dosas is set and edges are golden, about 2 minutes.  Flip using a rubber spatula and cook dosa until underside is golden in spots, about 1 minute more.  Transfer to a plate.  Make more dosas with remaining batter, stacking and covering loosely with foil to keep warm.

To serve, spoon masala filling into dosas.

Cooks’ Note: Masala filling, without coconut and cilantro, can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled.  Reheat before stirring in coconut and cilantro.

Mily’s Note: It took me much longer to cook the dosas so cook it to your liking however long it might take.