If you’re looking for a healthy side dish that’s naturally gluten-free, this quinoa pilaf is hard to beat. Nuts add crunch while dried cranberries and butternut squash add tons of flavor.
I have been on a quest to find tasty ways to add quinoa to my diet because it is such a healthy food.
Not only is it packed with vitamins and minerals, it is a complete protein, and gluten free.
Although it looks like a grain, it is not a grass. It is a member of the beet and kale families.
One would never know it based on the bland taste of plain boiled quinoa.
Fortunately, it blends well with other flavors to make a nutritious, delicious side dish that’s a great alternative to rice or potatoes for holiday meals.
I found this recipe in Canadian Gardening Magazine and it is one of the best quinoa recipes I have tried yet!
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Here is your shopping list for this Quinoa Pilaf recipe:
- Quinoa – obviously!
- Fresh fruits & vegetables – 1 butternut squash, 1 lemon
- Oil – 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Dried spices – salt, pepper
- Dairy – 1 Tablespoon butter – Unsalted works best. If you use the salted variety, you can reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe.
- Dried fruit, nuts and seeds – ¼ cup dried cranberries, ½ cup pecans, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup pistachios – For less work, buy shelled pistachios.
- Fresh spices – 1 Tablespoon parsley. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried parsley if you don’t have any fresh parsley available.
How To Make Quinoa Pilaf
Pre-heat the oven to 350℉.
Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
Zest and juice half of a lemon.
Chop the pecans.
Shell the pistachios (if you didn’t buy them without the shell on).
If you like extra crunch, roast the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet in the oven for 5 minutes.
Chop the parsley.
Cook The Squash
The first step to making this quinoa pilaf recipe is to cook the squash.
Before you start, line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. This helps to prevent the squash from burning.
Spread the cubed squash out on the cookie sheet and toss with oil, salt and pepper.
Then bake at 350℉ for 20 to 25 minutes or until soft.
Cook The Quinoa
Put 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil.
Add the quinoa to the pot, then cover and reduce the heat to low.
Cook for about 12 minutes. Inserting the handle of a wooden spoon between the lid and the rim of the pot will prevent it from boiling over.
Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Then fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Make The Pilaf
Put the cooked quinoa in a large serving bowl with the cooked squash, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon butter, ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped pecans, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup shelled pistachios and the chopped parsley.
Toss until mixed.
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios shelled
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds roasted
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
Cook The Squash
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Peel the butternut squash and cut into ¾” cubes.
- Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Toss the squash cubes with the olive oil and the salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender and golden, stirring once in a while.
Cook the Quinoa
- Meanwhile, boil the water in the medium sauce pan.
- Add the quinoa.
- Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 12 min.
- Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let sit for 5 min. Then fluff with a fork.
Make The Pilaf
- Put the quinoa into the bowl and toss with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and the squash.
- Stir in the cranberries, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, and parsley.
- Serve warm and be prepared for compliments!
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
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This post was originally published on February 11, 2016 but was updated with new content on November 4, 2022.