Best of Basic: Savory Quinoa Pilaf

Attention, Food Vibers! I’m starting a new project and I’m calling it, Project: Grain Bowl. My favorite type of meal is this new age version of a “big salad” (Seinfeld reference) – a fully loaded grain bowl. So many of my meals these days are grain bowls, and I regularly make them for clients, making me a grain bowl pro. Side note: grain bowls are also referred to as Buddha Bowls and Nourish Bowls.

Not only is my kind of grain bowl packed with a wide range of plant-based nutrients, but it also must be super tasty, uber satisfying and layered with textures and flavors. And then, I have just one more requirement – it has to be easy to prep ahead of time and then throw together last minute, whether for a quick lunch or an effortless dinner. That’s where Project: Grain Bowl comes in. Phase one? I’m breaking down the make-ahead components of my favorite grain bowls, the components that can be prepped on one day, and then combined with endless combinations of other ingredients all week to create these deliciously easy and nourishing one-bowl meals.

I keep a variety of grain bowl components ready to go in the fridge at all times. When it’s time for a meal, I combine these “grain bowl basics” with whatever I have in the fridge or pantry, and voila – a delish meal I can feel good about eating. My Savory Quinoa Pilaf is my absolute fave base for grain bowls. Yes, you could just use plain cooked quinoa, but if you want something that tastes amazing, I highly recommend going the extra mile and making a big batch of this elevated quinoa at the beginning of the week.

Stay tuned for new updates and additions to Project: Grain Bowl, but for now, try out my super easy recipe for Savory Quinoa Pilaf.

Best of Basic: Savory Quinoa Pilaf
Serves: 4-6 Start to Finish: 25 minutes Yield: approximately 3.5 cups


1 cup dry quinoa
sea salt, fine grain, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion or 3-4 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper, optional, to taste

To Make

In a small sauce pan, combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, keep covered, and allow to sit/steam for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion or shallot, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until translucent and softened, 4-6 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is no longer raw, 2-3 minutes.

When quinoa is finished steaming, fluff with a fork. Gently stir onion/shallot mixture into cooked quinoa. Season with pepper and additional salt, to taste.

Store refrigerated in an air tight container for 5-6 days. It can also be frozen once completely cooled.

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