Quinoa Pilaf

Side DishGluten-FreeVegetarianQuinoa

Naturally high-protein and gluten-free quinoa, cooked with onions, garlic, bell peppers, pilaf style, with chopped fresh herbs added for the finish. Healthy and easy!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Do you like quinoa?

It’s one of my favorite things to make.

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Even though it’s actually a seed, it behaves like a grain, and can easily take the place of rice in many recipes, including a classic pilaf.

Like rice it’s gluten-free, but since it is actually a seed, it’s high protein. Perfect for those wanting to cut back a bit on carbs.

This quinoa pilaf is prepared in much the same way as rice pilaf.

First we sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic, and the uncooked quinoa, then we add water, bring to a simmer, cover and let cook until the quinoa absorbs all of the liquid.

Quinoa

If you want, you can use stock instead of some or all of the water called for in the recipe. Personally I prefer it made with water because the quinoa itself has a wonderful nutty flavor which using stock can mask.

Serve it warm, room temp or chilled.

Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe? If so, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear about it.

Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4

Once you've cooked the quinoa as instructed, feel free to improvise a bit on the add-ins in the last step. I chose mint, basil, chives, and cucumber for this recipe, but you could just as easily go with parsley, green onions, chopped fresh red bell pepper.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 1 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or Thai basil*
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (or green onions including the greens)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

* Best way to chop basil or mint is to chiffonade it by rolling up the leaves like a cigar and slicing crosswise from the end.

Method

1 Rinse quinoa if instructed on box: Check your box of quinoa, if it recommends rinsing the quinoa, place the quinoa in a large sieve and rinse it until the water runs clear. (Some brands don't require rinsing.)

2 Sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic, pine nuts: Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat in a 1 1/2 to 2 quart pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent, but not browned.

3 Add quinoa: Add the uncooked quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally for a couple more minutes. You can let some of the quinoa get a little toasted.

4 Add water, salt, bring to simmer: Add 2 cups of water and one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low so that the quinoa and water are simmering while the pot is partially covered (enough to let out some steam).

Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and put into a large serving bowl. Fluff up with a fork.

5 Stir in olive oil, mint, basil, chives, cucumber: Let cool until just slightly warm, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in chopped mint, basil, chives, and cucumber. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Links:

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn here on Simply Recipes

Quinoa Greek Salad here on Simply Recipes

Heidi's quinoa recipes - from 101 Cookbooks

Quinoa Pilaf

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

55 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Elena

    Thank you very much!
    I made both of them and I made everybody happy.I keep all your recipes at handy.
    Thank you again!

  2. Vanessa

    Made this for a small gathering. Everyone loved it, even the kids! Excited to make again!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Abbi

    LOVE this recipe! Delicious as written, and easily adapted for different crowds. I’ll be making this as a gluten free ‘stuffing’ alternative for Thanksgiving!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Mary Morris

    This is a great starter recipe, and variations of it have become a new summer staple in our household. For color and flavor, instead of cooking bell pepper with the quinoa, I like to add fresh sweet red bell pepper, that compliments the fresh greens that I add after the quinoa is cooked and has cooled. Instead of pine nuts, which are expensive, I have been using slivered blanched almonds, which I toast in a sautee pan, adding flavor and texture. For seasoning, along with the salt and pepper, I add fresh squeezed lime juice and a bit more olive oil. A very satisfying dish that goes well with sliced melon and barbequed chicken or steak on a hot summer evening.

  5. Purvis

    This was wonderful. I made this pretty much as written (fresh herbs included) except with red quinoa. It tasted moist and substantial, with the herbs contributing it a nice freshness, and the quinoa giving it a deliciously unique texture and taste. Usually my husband adds lemon, spices or hot sauce to everything I make to add flavor, but he didn’t think this needed anything–it was perfectly balanced.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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