Quinoa Pilaf with Herbs and Lemon

Quinoa Pilaf

This simple recipe gives your quinoa a nice flavor boost, with fairly little effort. The bright, herbs and fresh squeezed lemon goes well with chicken and seafood.

Quinoa Pilaf

I served this quinoa pilaf with some perfect and simple pan-seared salmon, and some sautéed fresh zucchini.

Quinoa Pilaf with Salmon and Sautéed Zucchini


Quinoa Pilaf with Herbs and Lemon

Adapted slightly from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4 to 6 
If you buy unwashed quinoa, you’ll want to rinse the grains in a fine-mesh strainer to wash away the bitter coating of saponins which can cause a soapy taste for some people, in your finished dish. Spread the rinse quinoa on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a dish towel to dry for 15 minutes before using in your recipe. Any soft herbs will work for this, such as parsley, chives, mint, basil, cilantro and tarragon. I used a combination of chives and basil from my herb garden.
1 1/2 cups quinoa, washed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Toast quinoa in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until quinoa is very fragrant and makes continuous popping sound, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer quinoa to bowl and set aside.

Return now-empty pan to medium-low heat and melt butter. Add onion and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and light golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, stir in water and quinoa and bring to simmer and then cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer until grains are just tender and liquid is absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through cooking to ensure even cooking. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

Fluff quinoa with fork. Stir in chopped herbs, lemon juice, and serve.



  1. Chris says

    This is so far the best way I’ve found to attempt to prepare for the 1st time. I did find the C.I. version first but didn’t know which herbs would work best as all mine are dried. Thanks for the choices!

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