Gluten Free Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

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by Carol Kicinski on May 20, 2010

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Gluten Free Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

I’m a little late jumping on the quinoa bandwagon. It’s not that I didn’t like quinoa; it’s just that I had never tried it. And trust me; I know how ridiculous that sounds. As a lover of food, a gluten-free recipe developer and publisher of a gluten-free blog, one would naturally assume I did all sorts of things with this gluten-free super food.

After all, quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in protein and as it turns out, delicious.

It wasn’t until my vegetarian, as well as gluten-free, son started extolling the virtues of quinoa that I was tempted to try some.

My first attempt, following the package directions to the letter, yielded a mushy, somewhat flavorless mass of stuff. I was unimpressed.

But persistence is one of my virtues. So I toyed around with various cooking methods until I became a newly minted, card carrying quinoa lover!

Firstly, I toasted the quinoa before adding water. This intensified the nutty taste.

Secondly, I looked for ways to bump up the flavor quotation without overwhelming the flavor of the quinoa itself. I tried cooking it in chicken stock but that made the quinoa taste like chicken. (This is where we stop and reflect on all those “tastes like chicken” jokes.) So I did the job with onions, garlic, herbs and toasted nuts.

Thirdly, I decreased the cooking liquid, which resulted in a beautiful batch of fluffy (not mushy) quinoa.

This gluten free quinoa pilaf makes a great accompaniment to my chicken piccata recipe and, at the risk of sounding like Rachael Ray, with the addition of an arugula and shaved Parmesan salad, you can get an entire elegant meal on the table in about half an hour.

Click here to see my cooking demonstration of this recipe on Daytime TV!

Gluten Free Quinoa Pilaf Recipe


3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
½ cup finely minced white or yellow onion (about ½ of a medium onion)
1 cup quinoa
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 green onion (white and green part) finely minced
¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely minced


Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced white or yellow onion and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onions are starting to get translucent. Add the quinoa and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. You want the quinoa to lightly toast but you do not want the garlic to get browned. Add the water and salt. Raise heat, bring to a full boil, cover pan with a lid and turn heat down to medium-low. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

While quinoa is simmering toast the almond slivers in a dry skillet over high heat until they are browned and fragrant, stirring often. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Take off heat and set aside.

When the quinoa is done, remove from heat and let sit in pan covered for about 3 minutes. Put in serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the minced green onion, parsley and toasted almonds. Drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and toss. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.


This Gluten Free Quinoa Pilaf Recipe serves 4.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

RecipeGirl May 20, 2010 at 5:51 am

Looks beautiful. I just recently jumped on the quinoa bandwagon as well. Love the stuff. I'll have to try toasting it first.


H.Peter May 20, 2010 at 5:58 am

I think there are a whole bunch of people late on the Quinoa train, including this family.

But once Victoria made some, we were all hooked.

And Canada is a major producer!


Kalyn May 20, 2010 at 6:18 am

Sounds very tasty! I like the idea of toasting the quinoa first. I was a slow adopter for quinoa too, but now I like it a lot.


Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul May 20, 2010 at 6:52 am

Great advice Carol! I had a lot of issues when I first played around with it in the kitchen. I must try toasting it beforehand.


3 Peanuts May 20, 2010 at 6:59 am

Yumm. I too have recently incorporated quinoa into my diet. I eat GF but am on a sugar-free, yeast-free diet right now too and this is a staple for me. I love it as a breakfast cereal. Cook on stove with 1/2 unsweetened vanilla almond milk and half water for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes off heat. Add toasted raw almonds, cinnamon, agave (even unsweetened coconut) YUMMY! You could also add berries or honey or other things if you are eating suagr. I LOVE it. It is really filling too.


Sara May 20, 2010 at 7:24 am

I am in love with quinoa as well. I love how it picks up the flavor of anything you cook it in. My favorite way of cooking it right now is either vegetable broth or water, toasted sesame oil, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. It comes out with almost an Asian flavor and its delicious – I can eat it by the bowlful! I will definitely have to try toasting it – that is a wonderful tip!


Iris May 20, 2010 at 7:45 am

I like that idea of toasting it first! I'm going to try that next time I make quinoa!


Jennifer May 20, 2010 at 10:11 am

I adore the idea of toasting the quinoa first! YUM


Jessica May 20, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Yum! My kind of dish; tasty and nutritious as well as easy! Thanks.

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GF Gidget May 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

I have eaten this and it is AMAZING!!!!


Marc @ NoRecipes May 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

As a fellow card-carrying quinoa lover, I have to thank you for the great idea of toasting it before adding the water. Since it makes rice taste better it only makes sense that it would make quinoa taste better as well. Will totally have to try this the next time I make it. Also, check out red quinoa, it's don't really taste all that different but I find it has a much more appealing color.


Alex Quici June 28, 2010 at 2:21 am

Thanks for the recipe idea – I've been a quinoa fan for about 20 years now. I like to toast it with a garlic-parsley butter before adding water. Then, just before all the water has boiled out, I cover the pot and turn off the heat and let it sit several minutes before serving. This steams the quinoa, leaving it light and fluffy.

Would you mind if I link this post to one I'm writing about quinoa?

Thanks again for the recipe, and a great site overall.


Alex Quici June 28, 2010 at 2:25 am

Thanks for the recipe. I've been a quinoa fan for over 20 years now. I like to roast it in garlic-parsley butter before adding water (I find less water works best). Then, the moment all the water has evaporated, I turn off the heat, cover and let steam for several minutes before serving. My quinoa always comes out light and fluffy this way.

Would you mind if I link this post to one I'm writing about quinoa?

Thanks again for the recipe – and for a great site overall.


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