Southwest Quinoa Pilaf

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Wondering how to get more plant-based protein into your life? Try this Quinoa Pilaf! It’s a flavorful recipe that can be served as a side, or as a main course, when you pile on some filling toppings.

What makes a pilaf? A pilaf is typically cooked with veggies and broth, so it’s loaded with flavor. This version reminds me of a Southwest-inspired fried rice, only it uses quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) instead of rice. As a result, it’s more filling and hearty!

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and high in protein, so it makes the perfect grain (technically, it’s a seed, but it sure feels like a grain) for this dish.

Ingredients You’ll Need


Why You’ll Love It

  • All you need is one pan. The veggies and quinoa cook together in a single plan, so you won’t have extra dishes to do later.
  • It’s gluten-free. Perfect for those with special dietary needs.
  • It’s a complete source of protein. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, making it one of the few complete sources of plant-based protein.
  • It’s loaded with veggies. I can’t think of a more delicious way to eat veggies! They get extra-tender since they simmer away with the quinoa, so it also tends to appeal to more picky eaters who might not want a lot of “crunch” from their veggies.
  • It’s flavorful. With aromatics like onion and garlic, fragrant cumin, and fresh cilantro, this dish is bursting with flavors that will keep you coming back for more.

Pilaf is typically a side dish, but when you pile on extra toppings, like sliced avocado and black beans, it can also become an easy main dish.

The leftovers are even delicious chilled the next day, for an easy packed lunch. Add a squeeze of lime juice when you serve it cold, to help boost the flavor!

How to Make It

  • Saute the aromatics. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, and saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic.
  • Add in the quinoa. Now it’s time for the seasonings, quinoa, and broth.
  • Simmer. Bring everything to a simmer, then lower the heat and cover until the quinoa is fluffy and all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy! Add in the fresh cilantro and tomatoes, and adjust any seasoning to taste.

Serve quinoa pilaf warm, right away, next to your favorite protein and any other veggies you like. The leftovers could also be repurposed later as a filling for tacos or burritos!



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Pure2Raw Twins

We love quinoa!! It is yummy for all types of meals…breakfast, lunch, and dinner : )


I’m looking for the savory quinoa recipe that had cumin and a bay leaf. The ingredient list is not visible on this page with iPad or iPhone.

    Megan Gilmore

    Sorry, it got deleted during a web update! I’m working to retest that recipe now, to make sure it works, and then it will be back soon. 🙂

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