Vegetarian, delicious, fridge-clearing quinoa pilaf recipe

Guestpost by HiLLjO on Feb 16th

Quinoa is fast becoming my signature dish at home. I started incorporating this versatile grain more and more into our meals at home last fall and it has just blown me away with its potential. Our hands-down favorite quinoa dish right now is Quinoa Pilaf; I even set it out for our family dinner at Christmas! It's vegetarian, delicious, and a great way to clean out the vegetable drawer stragglers (lone celery stalk, anyone?). Plus, there's more protein in one ounce of quinoa than in one ounce of meat! HA!

This recipe is very basic and there is no "wrong" way to make it.

Quinoa flowering © by net_efekt, used under Creative Commons license.

All you will need for this recipe is:

  • 1 to 2 cups dry quinoa (any color)
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Several vegetables of different varieties chopped to your liking
  • Spices and lemon

First thing to do is to make the quinoa. This will take the longest at about 20 minutes! I use a rice cooker for my grains: I add the two parts water to one part dry quinoa and set to "cook." After it goes on "warm" I unplug the cooker and let the grain soak up the remaining water.

As the quinoa cooks I like to prepare my vegetables I'll be using. For this recipe I usually use onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushroom. I dice my onion and garlic* and simply cut the rest of the veggies into slices.

While the cooker goes onto warm I get a sauté pan nice and hot over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan and coat the bottom evenly. First add the onion and sauté about two minutes. Next add another tablespoon of oil, stir, and add the prepared vegetables only. Sauté these a bit longer — about five minutes — while stirring very frequently.

When the quinoa is done, stir it once to make sure it's fluffy. If it's still liquid-y it needs to sit longer. If it's dry then add two tablespoons oil to the pan, increase the heat one level to medium-hi and add the prepared quinoa. Stir constantly until mixed evenly and decrease heat back to medium. Continue stirring every two minutes, then add the garlic and spices when the mixture has reached even temperature and the onions have become transparent.

Serve immediately while warm after drizzling with lemon juice.

Some tips:

  • Don't be shy with the salt; quinoa can be very bland and this increases its flavor immensely.
  • Olive oil's smoke point is very low so if the pan gets too hot it can smoke. Try sunflower oil!
  • Get crazy with your vegetable choices! Try eggplant, zucchini, or even okra!
    • Setting aside the chopped garlic allows for the antibacterial compound alicin to be released!


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About HiLLjO

HiLLjO is the shortened version of my full name, Hillary Jo, that has followed me around for oh, decades now. I am a new wifey, furbaby momma, blogger, aspiring Offbeat Mama. My partner Shawn and I just moved into our first home in late August in Omaha, NE and we hope to bring some funk to the neighborhood. I am a fledgling designer and I love to crochet, make sock monkeys and cook.