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Toasted Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wuh) is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and packed with vitamins, minerals and protein. It’s actually a seed not a grain, but it’s cooked like a grain. The rich nutty taste is perfect in a pilaf, but it’s just as good stirred into any salad. Because of its flavour, ease of cooking and high nutritional value, quinoa is one of the most common foods on my table.

Serving: Serves 4


1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth or water
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they just begin to turn golden brown.

Add the quinoa and continue cooking for a few minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the quinoa is golden brown and toasted, about 5 minutes. This will add lots of aromatic flavour to the dish.

Pour in the chicken broth or water, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa has unfurled and is tender, about 15 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.

Quinoa seeds grow with a naturally bitter coating that is easily rinsed off. In fact, most of it has been washed off before it gets to you anyway, but it’s always a good idea to thoroughly rinse it once again. Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and run lots of cold water over it.


  1. Jenna said: On Nov 6, 2013

    I made this for lunch today and added a few handfuls of baby spinach near the end. I was so surprised at how much I liked it! I’ve made quinoa before, as a breakfast dish, but I wasn’t in love with it. The recipe I had made before never told me to rinse it or toast it either, so that’s likely where I went wrong. I am a definitely a new lover of Quinoa now and since I’m not the biggest fan of rice, this is a great substitute. Thanks!!

  2. ina said: On May 23, 2013

    We love this recipe Michael. It has become a staple in our home particularly in those times when life is hectic.Diced red pepper into the sauteed onion is a nice addition not only enhancing flavour but also adding to the aesthetic quality of the dish. Marvelous for lunch when accompanied with a small salad – light, yet packed with protein.

  3. Shamus said: On Apr 14, 2013

    Hi, long-time fan, first time commenting, Recently had my mother-in-law diagnosed with celiac, so quinoa was a food I discovered. Loved the recipe. Served it to the wife and daughter to try it out and it was a hit. Big fan, as I was a fitness nut, and have a teen who is now. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  4. Sharon said: On Mar 28, 2013

    Quinoa is soooo good for you so I am always looking for new recipes that include it. Although it is not mentioned I hope everyone knows that Quinoa is also qluten free and therefore an exceptional substitute for coucous and pasta. It makes the most wonderful salads too.
    I was wondering though if you have an equation for the dry quinoa to the cooked quinoa. In other words how much does 1 cup of raw quinoa cook up to?

  5. Brian said: On Mar 17, 2013

    Hi Michael,
    I watch your show all of the time and I will tell you , you have the very best cooking show on the planet… I spend most of my spare time in the kitchen I love to cook , I feel it’s the most relaxing thing one can do .. I have learned so much from watching you and just wanted to thank you … Also I have been cooking with quinoa for years .. Thank you so very much


  6. Dale said: On Aug 14, 2012

    Going to try this tonight…never had quinoa before.

  7. marg said: On Jul 25, 2012

    awesome , first time trying this, and was a hit thanks Michael!

  8. Carol said: On Sep 4, 2011

    Very nice as a side dish. Also an easy recipe to follow and use time and time again. my husband and I enjoy it. Thank you very much.

  9. France said: On Jul 26, 2011

    This is absolutely wonderful for a side dish. We’ve just discovered quinoa and trying it different ways. Love it! Thanks!

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Quinoa Pilaf
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I’m a FoodTV host, cookbook author and official food ambassador for Prince Edward Island, more importantly I’m a Dad and passionate home cook!


Because of its aromatic nutty flavour, quinoa is especially good served with other nuts. We often sprinkle toasted almonds on top of this dish.