Quinoa Pilaf for Passover

Quinoa is one of those superfoods that has been getting a lot of attention recently.  But I will admit that I was a latecomer to the quinoa bandwagon.  I really wanted to like it, but every time I tried it, I found it bitter and/or grassy-tasting.  Then I decided to host a dinner during Passover last year, and The New York Times Food Section ran a big story about the general (though, admittedly, not universal) consensus that this South American grain most people hadn’t even heard of until recently is, in fact, kosher for Passover.  I resolved to conquer quinoa—if I couldn’t make it taste good, there would just be one less superfood in my world.  So, I bought pre-rinsed quinoa then rinsed it a few more times, to wash off the natural residue that makes it bitter.  And I cooked it in stock and with other flavorful ingredients to give it a more robust flavor.  A few other add-ins, and I had a great Passover side dish (or protein-rich main dish for vegetarians) that even a quinoa skeptic like me enjoyed.

Saffron Quinoa Pilaf

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

Total time: 20 min.

Yield: 4 servings

Level: Easy


  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed then well-rinsed again
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • ¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (may substitute other dried fruit)
  • Salt to taste


Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 1 ½ quart pot.  Add shallot and sauté until translucent, 1-2 minutes.  Add in quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in stock and saffron and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, until all stock is absorbed.  Fluff quinoa with fork and salt to taste.  Stir in almond and cranberries.

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