Gluten Free Pistachio Garlic Mint Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on July 5, 2011

Gluten Free Pistachio Mint Garlic Quinoa Pilaf

A few days ago I shared a recipe for Pistachio Mint Crusted Rack of Lamb, a dinner-party-worthy gluten-free recipe that is seriously simple. Well, a great main course deserves an equally great side dish and I think this Pistachio Garlic Mint Quinoa Pilaf is just the thing. Not only is the taste amazing but it is so healthy!

Quinoa is loaded with complete protein, pistachios are a heart-healthy, cholesterol free nut packed with minerals and vitamins and mint has not only digestive soothing properties but is a strong anti-fungal which eases asthma and allergy symptoms and it is thought to have cancer fighting properties as well.

What I love most about this recipe is that it tastes a little exotic and really livens up a weekday meal. As delicious as that lamb recipe was, I could honestly just have a big bowl of this quinoa and be perfectly happy, it makes a great vegan main course. And it would be equally good with a simple roasted chicken or piece of grilled fish.

Whether for a weeknight dinner or fancy-schmancy dinner party, this is a simple, quick, healthy recipe that packs a lot of flavor.

Gluten Free Pistachio Mint Garlic Quinoa Pilaf

Gluten Free Pistachio Garlic Mint Quinoa Pilaf Recipe


½ cup shelled, roasted, salted pistachios
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot or ¼ small red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups pre-rinsed quinoa
2 ¼ cups water
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1½ cups fresh mint leaves (loosely packed)


Heat a sauce pot or deep skillet with a lid over medium heat, add the pistachios and toast for about 4 minutes or until fragrant. Put the nuts into the bowl of a food processor and let cool.

Return the pan to the heat, add the olive oil and the shallot or onion. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the shallot starts to soften. Add the garlic and quinoa and toast the quinoa for about 3 minutes – you want the quinoa to lightly toast but you do not want the garlic to brown. Add the water and salt and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

Pulse the pistachios in the food processor until they are roughly chopped. Add the mint and pulse several times until the mint is finely chopped. Stir the mint and pistachios into the quinoa as you fluff it with a fork.


This gluten free recipe makes 6 servings.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

glutenfreeforgood July 5, 2011 at 10:02 am


I love coming over here to visit! Aside from the fact that your blog itself is gorgeous, your recipe photos are beautiful as well. You definitely have a talent when it comes to food. BUT, most of all, I love recipes like this. Healthy, tasty and easy! Perfect combo in my book. xo


InTolerantChef July 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

I have only rinsed my quinoa to remove the saponins before cooking, do you normally do this? It obviously tastes fantastic though!


The Healthy Apple July 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Such a unique and delicious recipe…love the addition of pistachios in here. Simply perfect, Carol.


Carol Kicinski July 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thank you!!!


julia July 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

mmmm i want


Kellsie July 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

If this were soccer, it would be a goooooal!


Tammi L Coles July 24, 2011 at 3:12 am

Thanks for the blog and the recipe!

I just finished making this dish for book group potluck that’s all vegetarian. While the results haven’t wowed me especially, and mine “clumps” not “fluffs” unlike the one pictured, I am hoping it gets good feedback from the others.


Carol Kicinski July 25, 2011 at 8:52 am

Hi Tammi,
Hmmm – did you fluff your quinoa with a fork? Trying to to figure why it would be clumping, maybe it was undercooked. Let me know what your guests think.


Tammi L Coles July 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

Right off the heat, it was clumpy no matter what I did. Once I got it to the brunch, though, it had cooled so completely that it fluffed up really nicely! Got great feedback (including someone who asked for the recipe), and there were plenty of leftovers for me. Yum! Thanks so much!


Carol Kicinski July 28, 2011 at 9:00 am

Great! Thanks for the feedback!


Tammi L Coles July 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

Meant to add that besides helping in the “make-it-fluff” presentation, the mingling of the flavors after a complete cool-down really boosts the taste.


Renee November 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I buy my quinoa organic pre-washed natures earthly choice at costcos great price for 4 lb bag . Love this recipe thanks I look forward to all your recipes . I am just learning gluten free cooking . It’s getting easier with your help. Thanks again


Carol Kicinski November 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thank you so much Renee! It does get easier :)


Ida September 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

If I make this dish ahead of time, should I add the nuts and mint just before serving or while cooking? Also, should I warm it up before serving it? Thanks.


Carol Kicinski October 23, 2015 at 9:44 am

Hello Ida,
Yes, add the nuts just before serving, you can serve the dish warm or at room temperature, either way tastes good! And you’re very welcome. :) xo, Carol


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