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  • Writer's pictureIan at Bear n Mind Catering

RECIPE: Quinoa PIlaf

Quinoa PIlaf

This is one of my favourite dishes at the moment, Quinoa Pilaf.  It's packed full of flavour, textures and full of protein. I use beetroot, pumpkin seeds and cranberries for this recipe, for a change you might like to add raw carrots and cauliflower, hemp seed and barberries for a twist. 


Quinoa Pilaf is great as a side dish to go with meat and fish, or even as a cold salad. Most recently I have been serving it to the guests at Green Farm Kent for their lunches on the weekend spa and yoga retreats.  


Quinoa and how to cook it.... 


One of my go to pieces of equipment in the kitchen is an electric pressure cooker. Pressure cookers save so much time in the cooking process, allowing me to use dried pulses and grains rather than tinned, resulting a more nutritious product and one that is more cost effective - so it's a double win!  


As a chef I used to think pressure cookers were a bit naff and would boil food to death, however during my teaching time at Le Corden Blue I was tasked with developing a recipe which used a pressure cooker, since then I have become hooked. I can cook a beetroot using a pressure cooker in 10 minutes – what's not to love!? 


The benefit of cooking quinoa in the pressure cooker is that it gives you perfect quinoa every time and will take only 2 minutes once up to temperature. Whereas using a traditional method can give you mixed results, with an ever-changing temperature on the rolling boil, resulting in mushy or a two textured under/overcooked product. 


In this recipe I use whole seeds and a cinnamon stick, but the recipe works well using powder if that's what's in your cupboard. Whole seeds ground in a mortar and pestle will always give you a bigger bang for flavour. 




  • 200g quinoa    

  • 380ml water   

  • 1 tbsp olive oil   

  • 1 onion   

  • 2 garlic cloves   

  • 1/2 star anise    

  • 2cm cinnamon stick   

  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds   

  • 1 bay leaf   

  • 1/4 tsp fennel   

  • 1/2 tsp coriander   

  • 1/2 tsp cumin   

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder   

  • 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper   

  • 1 grated raw beetroot   

  • 50g toasted pumpkin seeds   

  • 50g dried cranberries 


Step 1 
Spiced stock  
  • Grind the whole seeds in a mortar and pestle until a coarse powder has appeared. 

  • Sweat the onions and garlic down with some salt and pepper until tender. (This means gently cooking them in olive oil, salt and pepper on a medium to low heat, until they are tender and have no colour.)

  • Add spices, whole star anise and cinnamon stick 

  • Continue to cook on a gentle heat for 2 minutes  

  • Add the 380ml of water and turmeric powder and bring to just under the simmer 

  • Allow to cool to room temp away from the stove 

Step 2  
  • Add quinoa and spiced stock into pressure cooker pot 

  • Set onto multigrain setting and select 2 minutes  

  • After 2 minutes carefully release the pressure and empty the quinoa pilaf out onto a tray and allow to steam dry 

  • Whilst steaming add the berries and seeds (for extra flavour toast the seeds in the oven at 170 degrees to give a wonderful nutty flavour) 

  • Once cool add chopped coriander 


If you decided to have the Quinoa Pilaf cold or have some leftovers, you can make a lime juice and olive oil dressing or apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing to mix through to lighten and freshen up the quinoa salad. I like to add some soft cooked boiled eggs to it and eat it like a Kedgeree. 




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