Scented Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Raisins

by Divina C in User Contributed

Finished with raisins, pine nuts, green onions and cilantro, this lovely quinoa pilaf is scented with garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin and saffron.

  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins

  • Comments: 2
  • Views: 12699
  • Success 93%

Step 1: Rinsing the Quinoa

Rinsing the Quinoa

If necessary, rinse the quinoa by placing the grain in a bowl and twice the amount of cold water. Swirl thoroughly and scoop out any small stones or debris. Pour through a fine strainer. If the water is dirty, repeat the procedure. Drain well.

It is important to wash quinoa thoroughly to remove the bitter tasting saponin coating* (see note below). Some manufacturers do this for you, so check the package beforehand.

  • 1 cup quinoa

Step 2: Cooking the Quinoa

Cooking the Quinoa

To start the quinoa, first peel and chop the garlic. Next, peel and grate the ginger. Zest and juice the lemon. Set aside.

Measure out the olive oil, spices and chicken stock.

To cook the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika** (see note) and cumin. Cook for until fragrant. Add the quinoa and stir until coated with the oil and spices.

**Note: Smoked sweet paprika can be substituted instead of mild paprika and adjust amount accordingly.

Next, add the stock, saffron, sea salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir. Bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

When it is ready, small steam holes should appear on the surface. Remove from the heat. Place a tea towel underneath the lid to absorb any steam. Covering the pot with a towel after cooking will absorb the extra moisture making the pilaf light and fluffy. Let rest for about 7-10 minutes.

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2" -inch piece fresh ginger root
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp mild paprika**
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500 ml water, chicken or vegetable stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lemon

Step 3: Finishing the Pilaf

Finishing the Pilaf

While the quinoa is resting, finely chop the green onion(s) and cilantro.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a bowl. Add the pine nuts, raisins/currants, green onions and cilantro. Toss until combined. Taste the pilaf and adjust the seasoning if desired.

  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or currants
  • 2 green onions (if thin) or 1 green onion (if thick)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • sea salt (to taste)


Quinoa, a South American grain, is greatly revered as the mother of grains because of its high amino acid profile. This pilaf can be served warm or cold and is delicious served with grilled or roasted mixed vegetables.
Gluten-free; Vegan (when water or vegetable stock is used); Dairy-Free

*Saponins are the natural, soap-like substances that occur on the outside of the quinoa seeds and are believed to deter insects and birds.

- Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids and is therefore a complete protein. They are easier to digest than meat protein. They are high in iron and calcium, with a mix of the B vitamins and other minerals.

- Quinoa is more closely related to beets and to green leafy vegetables like spinach and chard than it is to wheat, oats, barely or rye.

- It has cleansing and strengthening properties to the liver and the kidneys, plus other benefits.

Lori A


Thanks Divina P., for posting this! I have never cooked quinoa before and would have never put these spices together. Mine didn't resemble your picture, but it still tasted good.

Alexandra  D

This recipe saved me from terrible quinoa!

The one and only time I had tried making quinoa before I watched the whole grains cooking school lesson, I thought it was completely awful and inedible. I had no idea how to cook it, so I put it in a rice cooker and hoped for the best... unfortunately, it was awful. After watching the cooking school lesson on whole grains and making this recipe last night, I'm converted! This pilaf was really tasty and easy to make - I'm on to wheatberries next!

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