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Warm Quinoa Pilaf

quinoa pilaf
The inspiration for this quinoa pilaf recipe was a quinoa recipe in the New Jersey Jewish News called Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds. I was planning to make it on Rosh Hashana; however, the pomegranates I bought were sadly under-ripe and the seeds bitter instead of sweet, so I chose to simplify the pilaf and use only sauteed onion and celery for flavoring. The recipe also called for walnuts, and we don’t eat nuts on Rosh Hashana (not everyone follows this custom). So I will post a list of optional ingredients for your quinoa pilaf at the end of this recipe post. My pilaf recipe follows what was on the Roland box more closely than the newspaper quinoa salad recipe.

Why Quinoa?

If you find yourself making rice for many meals, why not substitute quinoa at times? Quinoa has a delicious, mild flavor and cooks in 15 minutes flat–more quickly than rice. It supposedly richer than rice in protein, fiber, magnesium and calcium, and it is gluten free. I felt fortunate to find a box that was pre-washed (for Central Jersey locals, it was Roland brand in Stop and Shop with an O-U certification). Otherwise, one has to rinse off the naturally occurring bitter coating known as saponin. An advantage to quinoa is Ashkenazim may eat this grain on Pesach, so you will find me linking to this post in the month before Passover.

Quinoa Pilaf: The Main Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (or use coconut oil)
  • 1 stick chopped celery
  • 1 chopped onion

Optional Ingredients

  • chopped carrots – add with onions
  • chopped zucchini – add with onions
  • chopped or crushed garlic – add with onions
  • salt and/or pepper to taste – add with onions
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • fresh herb (dill, oregano, basil) – add toward the end
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds – add at the very end
  • 1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries) – add at the very end
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 chopped scallion

Quinoa Pilaf: The Recipe

Assuming you have already rinsed the quinoa, boil 2 cups of water with or without a bit of salt, then add the quinoa. Saute the onions and celery (or not – you can just add chopped celery without the sauteing, if you prefer – the newspaper version just had you mixing in the celery with walnuts and olive oil). Mix with the quinoa and with any other optional ingredients (the newspaper version used craisins, pomegranate seeds and lemon juice). May be served with scallions on top.

I like the recipe warm, but I found it tasted OK cold as well. Also, I was able to reheat the dish easily.

More quinoa recipes:

Or maybe you want to try millet: Millet with Carrots and Zucchini

Ilana-Davita says

Thank you for all the options. We can now find craisins here but the package I spotted the other day mentions "sugar". Do they always add sugar to the cranberries?

Leora says

Yes - rather impossible to avoid adding a sweetener to cranberries, as they are naturally quite tart. You can skip them if you don't want the added sugar.

It used to be that it was very difficult to get cranberry products outside the U.S. - has that changed? I grew up near Cape Cod, the cranberry capital of the universe. As a teen, cranberry juice was my favorite drink. I remember struggling to explain that to Israelis in 1980. They had no word for it.

Mrs. S. says

Cranberry products - craisins, cranberry sauce, etc. - are now fairly easy to get here in Israel.

I'm bookmarking this recipe!

Leora says

Two years ago Hannah K. complained about the high price of quinoa in Israel - has it gotten better?

The pre-washed quinoa seems a little more expensive than not, but it makes it more likely for me to use quinoa. I found it's easy for Yom Tov, when it can be reheated in 5 minutes prior to serving.

Ilana-Davita says

We can find cranberry juice, cranberry sauce and craisins.

Laura says

I love quinoa. My sister makes quinoa this way, as a pilaf with sauteed onions and it is so delicious!

Jill says

I love trying new grains and my "rice only" husband has come to love quinoa. I tried millet pilaf the other night and he said, "oh no, I was just getting used to quinoa!"

Had to laugh at that comment. I do think the millet was better as an ingredient in muffins.

*note: Don't know about the prices in Israel, but Quinoa comes in a large bag at Costco (i believe it's organic) for a very low price. I let my membership run out, but others may be interested.

Leora says

I wrote about millet:
But then my father decided he couldn't eat this whole grain after all (he has troubles with whole grains and fibrous foods in general).

Thanks for the tip on quinoa at Costco. Doubt it's the pre-washed kind, though.

Jill says

It actually is no rise. The brand is "Nature's Earthy Choice" and it's organic. None of the instructions or recipes mention rinsing. It's a 4 lb bag and I think it was $7.99 (it could've been a bit more but I know it was under $10).
Almost makes me want to renew my membership, but I don't need a lot of bulk stuff. Might just send a friend with a membership in for a Quinoa favor!

Leora says

I would be happy to get you some next time I go to Costco, Jill. That's a *really* low price for that much quinoa.

Jill says

Oh wow! You're a member? That would be so nice. Maybe I'm remembering wrong... could be $9.99, but that's still great. I'd very much appreciate it if you would pick me up a bag.

Sue says

Yum. This looks great. I'm going to try it for Succoth.
Until now, we've only had quinoa cooked straight and served with a meat or chicken gravy for flavour.


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