Inspired by the traditional rice pilau, this enticing and super-healthy gluten free Vegetarian Quinoa Pilau Recipe, aka “qui-lau” is bursting with flavour, and so simple to pull off. Infused with the aroma of cumin, coriander and garam masala, this recipe is one you will want to add to your repertoire. Satisfying and finger-licking good!

plate of quinoa pilau with tomato, water and empty plates and forks on the side

When life is hectic and you’re short on time, healthy eating can seem hard – if not impossible. You know that feeling, right?! This quinoa pilau recipe is your solution!

You can whip up a batch of this gluten free quinoa recipe in minutes. What’s more, is that it’s a perfect meal to pack leftovers in in the fridge – ready to grab and go, as an easy, nourishing lunch option.

I grew up enjoying rice pilau. Sure, it’s a staple dish in most desi homes and we certainly LOVE it! With that authentic delicious flavour, it’s easy to over-indulge and pay the price of feeling like you’re going to explode 30 minutes later.

Know the feeling? Truth be told, some recipes of pilau are pretty heavy going.

Besides, I’ve rarely come across a vegetarian pilau recipe that actually contains enough vegetables to equate a reasonable portion. You end up loading on rice!

How to Make This Pilau Recipe – Step by Step

Step by step prep shots of how to make vegetarian quinoa pilau

So let’s talk about the cooking process. It’s really simple and you can substitute with your favourite veggies to give some variety.

  1. I start by steaming the green beans (Image 1) and whilst that is on the stove, I start sautéing the onions and garlic in oil (Image 2).
  2. Once lightly golden, I add the diced tomatoes and pepper and cook to soften (Image 3).
  3. The spices, along with the salt go in next (Image 4), followed by green beans, black beans, quinoa and stock (Image 5).
  4. Make sure, you cover the pan and let it simmer on medium heat – to ensure the quinoa is cooked through (Image 6). Remember, if you cook under slow heat, it will become soggy and mushy.
  5. Finish by garnishing with coriander and lime juice (Image 7) and serve while hot (Image 8).
plate of quinoa pilau with tomato, water and empty plates and forks on the side

Love quinoa as much as we do? Then, you must try my quinoa mung bean salad. It’s refreshing, light and satisfying! Want to see me whip it up? Check out the video below and subscribe to my youtube channel for more cooking fun in my Desi~licious kitchen.

Over the last few months, I’ve been testing out several recipes of pilau – using quinoa, less oil and plenty of plant-based goodness.

This gluten free quinoa vegetable pilau has all the nourishing ingredients you need to keep your family nourished, yet it doesn’t compromise on that classic taste – with the desi spices.

This gluten free vegetable pilau is light, slightly nutty (thanks to the quinoa), and bursting with nutrition. The best part is that it’s done and dusted in 30 minutes.  Don’t you feel relieved hearing that?

Why I used quinoa in this gluten free vegetable quinoa pilau recipe?

  • Cooks quickly; in as little as 10 minutes (if soaked overnight)
  • It’s considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, that your body needs (a great choice for vegetarians and vegans)
  • Higher in antioxidants, relative to other grains (it’s actually not a typical grain)
  • Has a decent dose of healthy fats
  • High in fibre (to help you stay full for longer)
  • Good source of iron

Check out 5 facts about quinoa nutrition and how to cook with it on Eating Well.

Why it’s Important to Soak Rice and Grains

Washing and soaking quinoa the night before will certainly help to speed up the cooking process. But more importantly, thoroughly washing it will remove its bitter coating.

Remember, it’s really easy to overcook quinoa – turning it into khitchardi (sticky rice) versus nicely separated pilau grains. Be sure to drain really well so you have good control over the amount of water used for cooking.

What’s more is that many grains contain phytic acid, which has a tendency to bind to some nutrients (such as iron) in your body and prevent or reduce their absorption. What’s the solution? Soak your grains – to reduce the phytic acid content.

Top Tips For Making Quinoa Pilau

  • Rinse the quinoa thoroughly several times in cold water to remove the bitter coating
  • Dice the vegetables in bite-sized chunks so they all cook evenly
  • Avoid cooking quinoa on low heat, otherwise it will be mushy
  • The fresher your ingredients – the better
  • Extra pilau makes a terrific meal to pack for lunch. Let it cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days

More Healthy Recipes You Might Like:

I’d love to hear from you! What your favorite memory of eating pilau? Have you tried my vegetarian quinoa pilau recipe?

If you try this recipe, would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram, Facebook and twitter!  Can’t wait to see your photos.

Desi~liciously Yours, Shahzadi
RD Approved Badge - Balanced Meal
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plate of quinoa pilau with tomato, water and empty plates and forks on the side
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Get the Recipe:

Vegetarian Quinoa Pilau Recipe

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Yield: 5 people
Inspired by the traditional rice pilau, this enticing and super-healthy gluten free Vegetarian Quinoa Pilau Recipe, aka "qui-lau" is bursting with flavour, and so simple to pull off. Infused with the aroma of cumin, coriander and garam masala, this recipe is one you will want to add to your repertoire. Satisfying and finger-licking good!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup green beans, cut in small pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups black beans, cooked. You can use canned
  • 2 tomato, fresh, diced, small pieces. You can use canned
  • 1 bell pepper, red, washed and diced into small cubes
  • 1 green chili, washed, and finely chopped. Leave out if you don't fancy any heat
  • 1 cup quinoa, washed and soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup coriander, washed, and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, medium, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, large, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, reduced salt/sodium
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions
 

  • Wash and trim ends of green beans. Add water and beans to small pan. Cover and steam on medium/high heat for 5 minutes. Once done, set aside
  • If using canned black beans, drain and rinse and set aside
  • Wash and dice tomatoes, pepper and chilli in small pieces and set aside
  • Wash quinoa thoroughly several times, drain and set aside
  • Wash and finely chop coriander and set aside
  • Peel and chop onion and crush garlic. Heat oil in large pan, fry onion and garlic on medium heat until golden
  • Add tomatoes, pepper, chilli and cook on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously
  • Add salt and dry spices. Mix well
  • Stir in green beans, black beans, quinoa and stock. Bring to boil on high heat
  • Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 mins, until quinoa is soft and fluffy
  • Add lime juice and garnish with cilantro

Notes

  • Rinse the quinoa thoroughly several times in cold water to remove the bitter coating
  • Dice the vegetables in bite-sized chunks so they all cook evenly
  • Avoid cooking quinoa on low heat, otherwise it will be mushy
  • The fresher your ingredients – the better
  • Extra pilau makes a terrific meal to pack for lunch. Let it cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 224kcal (11%)Carbohydrates: 32g (11%)Protein: 9g (18%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 1091mg (45%)Potassium: 604mg (17%)Fiber: 10g (40%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 2300IU (46%)Vitamin C: 94.9mg (115%)Calcium: 80mg (8%)Iron: 3.8mg (21%)

Keep in mind that the nutritional values provided are approximations and suggestions. This nutrition facts table cannot account for your individual needs. Your body — including your hunger and satiety cues — change daily. It’s perfectly fine to eat more or less on different days. Instead of letting food guilt take over, consider mindful eating.

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cuisine: Desi, ethnic, Indian, pakistani, South Asian
Course: Main
Did you make this recipe?Mention @desiliciousrd on Instagram or tag #desiliciousrd.