Pilaf is a term used usually for a rice dish that is moulded into a shape. Quinoa pilafs use quinoa, instead of rice to achieve the same result.

Cooking pilaf (or a pilau depending on where you’re from) requires something to bind the ingredients together. Cooked quinoa works perfectly for this with lime juice and olive oil, as the cooked quinoa is naturally ‘sticky’. The addition of cranberries, nuts and seeds makes this a protein powerhouse dish.

Quinoa pilaf with grilled veggies on the side

The toasted seeds give it some crunch, the cranberries provide the sweetness and the lime juice balances it all with tartness.

The quinoa can be cooked ahead of time, and then the pilaf just assembled before eating. But, personally, I like to have the pilafs assembled and just reheated and a mix of grilled veggies added to the top.

Check out a more detailed explanation of cooking quinoa.

Quinoa pilaf with grilled veggies on top

The quinoa can be pre-cooked when you’re in the kitchen cooking something else. Just let it simmer away on the cooktop. Batch toast the pepitas, sunflowers seeds and pine nuts and keep them stored in the cupboard in an airtight container for up to a month. These can also be used to add to salads for something a little extra.

By having the quinoa, nuts and seeds pre-prepared, simply mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Divide between food rings (or make dome shapes with a spoon) and store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

4 Quinoa pilafs in food rings

Wondering where to buy Quinoa or what it looks like to purchase? Click here to check the price of quinoa. You could also use a tri colour quinoa.

This recipe is based on one by Anthea Amore in her cookbook Passion.



Quinoa Pilafs

Quinoa pilaf with grilled veggies on top
  • Author: Amanda
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes



¼ cup pepitas

1/4 cup sunflowers seeds

1/4 cup pinenuts

1/2 cup quinoa

1/4 cup cranberries

1 lime, juiced

pinch of salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup coriander

1 red capsicum, sliced

1 small eggplant, cut into rounds

8 snow peas

1 tbsp olive oil, extra


  1. Place the pepitas, sunflowers seeds and pine nuts in a dry saucepan over medium heat and toast until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside
  2. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of boiling water.
  3. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. Set aside to cool a little.
  4. Add the toasted seeds and nuts to a large bowl along with the cranberries, lime juice, salt, olive oil and coriander and slightly cooled quinoa.
  5. Stir until well combined.
  6. Lightly brush 4 food rings with olive oil and divide the mixture evenly between the 4 rings.
  7. Pack down firmly and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  8. Brush capsicum and eggplant with olive oil and grill until cooked.
  9. Blanch snow peas by placing into boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and rinse under cold water to keep the crispness.

To Assemble

  1. Remove pilaffs from food rings and place onto a plate.
  2. Top with grilled and branded veggies.


I use 8cm removable base cooking tins instead of food rings. If you don’t have either of these, use a large serving spoon to create a mound of the quinoa mixture and serve the veggies on the side. Try to press it down so the quinoa mix sticks together.

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**To Assemble**

  • Remove pilafs from food rings and place onto a plate.
  • Top with grilled and blanched veggies.


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