Spring Quinoa Pilaf
June 17, 2010

Great responses to my dynamic wardrobe post, guys. I loved hearing your input, and I’m so glad that some of you were inspired to donate an ill-fitting garment or two!

I’m admit that when I shared my recipe for sprouted wheatberry salad last week, I wasn’t sure how much interest it would get. Sprouting isn’t for everyone; the very idea of it seems to freak some people out. So you can imagine my happiness when so many of you liked the post and expressed some interest in trying more sprouted grains. That’s great! I hope you do.

The following recipe is a great place to start. Why? Because it involves sprouting quinoa, which is one of the fastest and easiest pseudograins to sprout. It requires less soak time than wheatberries do (8-12 hours as opposed to 24) and sprouts in about a day. There’s really no simpler sprouting project for a newbie, and sprouted quinoa happens to be delicious, too. Unlike wheat and buckwheat, which can get a little bitter and starchy when sprouted, quinoa retains its lightness and nutty flavors. It’s a versatile and nourishing foundation for all sorts of meals.

In spite of our peculiar temperatures this June — superhot, super cool, and hot again — we still have some late spring vegetables pouring into the farmer’s market. I missed the zenith of this year’s asparagus and shelling pea crops (shame on me), but fortunately some of the bounty is still around. Traditionally, I make risottos, rice dishes, and grain pilafs with asparagus and fresh spring peas each spring, and I’m delighted that I have a chance to keep the tradition alive this year, if a month or two late. And since I had sprouted quinoa ready for the using last weekend, it was a perfect time to throw together what is possibly my very favorite grain dish. Here it is, in all of its light, bright glory.

Spring Quinoa and Asparagus Pilaf (serves 2)

1 cup sprouted quinoa (instructions below)
3/4 cup asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup green peas (fresh is best, but you can use frozen if you must)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

To sprout the quinoa, soak 1/2 cup quinoa in filtered water in a mason jar for 12 hours. Rinse the quinoa, and return it to the jar (without water). Place paper towel, a cheesecloth, or a nut milk bag over the top of the jar, and secure it with a rubber band. Lay the jar on its side in a warm place and leave it alone for a day or so. When you return, the quinoa should be tender and have sprouted little tails, like so.

Store the quinoa in the fridge till you’re ready to use it, but note that it won’t stay fresh for more than another day or two.

When you’re ready to make the recipe, begin by blanching the asparagus and peas in boiling water for one minute, then transferring them to an ice bath (or cold running water) for another minute. Shake them dry. You CAN keep the veggies 100% raw if you like, but I prefer the slight tenderness that blanching will give them.

Mix the veggies, sprouted quinoa, and other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Serve!

This recipe proves more than any other that simple is best. Every time I make it, I feel as though I should add more ingredients or use more complex combinations of herbs. Then I put it all together–just grains, greens, salt, lemon, and dill–and realize that to tamper any more with it would be heresy. It’s perfect, just the way it is.

I hope you’re gearing up for a nice and sunny weekend. I’ve got a significant few days ahead of me: Chloe is getting married on Saturday (gah!), and I’m a bridesmaid. This means that I’m leaving for my happy place in less than twenty-four hours for what I am sure will be a fun, tearful, exciting, nostalgic, and generally beautiful three days. While I’m gone, you’ll be getting two lovely guest posts (full of tips for eating healthy on the go, as I’ve been all month). And you can expect a major photo recap next week, when I’m back. For those of you who want a sneak peek, I can promise you the following:

1) I’m getting a tasty vegan wedding dinner
2) Chloe’s dress is almost as exquisite as she is — I know, because I helped her pick it out
3) I will cry. A lot. I’m hoping not to get my pink frock streaked with mascara. We’ll see how well I do.


Categories: Dinner

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  1. I just came across this blog while looking for a recipe for a dilled quinoa pilaf. This dish looks fantastic! I LOVE sprouting beans and grains (sprouted hummus may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten). Now I’m debating whether to toast my grains as planned, or just do it raw like you’ve written. I’m vegan, and between our fantastic produce co-op and the green smoothies I’ve become addicted to, I’m moving closer to raw with every meal. Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Thank you for this second sprouting tutorial post and please keep them coming. You’re helping me get over my sprouting block/phobia. 🙂

  3. Squee! I actually have about half a cup of dry quinoa that I was scratching my head for what to do with. I’ve never tried sprouts except for alfalfa, which was gross, and mung, which was pretty tasty. Albeit I mixed the mung with bee pollen and cooked quinoa, so I don’t know how much of it I tasted, haha.

    Question…I’ve heard people talk about sprouts being a huge advantage in budget and self suffeciency. Why? Don’t you still have to buy the raw seeds/grains?

    • No idea. I would assume people who do it a lot are arguing that the seeds are cheaper than the germinated sprout, but this goes for legumes and plant sprouts, not grains.

  4. I just finished a bunch of sprouted wheat berries that I’ve been eating with fresh tomatoes and basil and I can’t wait to try the quinoa!

  5. Hi Gena!
    Question for you –
    The one time I made sprouted quinoa it gave me such intense stomach pains about a half hour after eating it that I’ve been scared to try it again. I remember reading on a forum that others have trouble digesting this grain raw. Do you know why this may be? Is this is a common problem?
    Thank you and have so much fun at the wedding!!

    • Definitely possible! I digest cooked grains *much* better than raw and sprouted. That said, I use the sprouting method for time management purposes when I need to. If sprouting didn’t work for your belly, stick with cooked!

  6. So funny your post was about sprouted quinoa, because we have some sprouting now : )

    Have a great time at the wedding!! I always cry at weddings..and drink too much.

  7. I absolutely love all things wedding! I cannot wait for pictures

    Also, I love peas in any recipe. they add something unique!

  8. For some reason, sprouted quinoa is less intimidating to me than sprouted wheatberries… I think I may try this one! Although I had a question – during those first 12 hours we let it sit on the counter, not in the fridge, correct? Thanks Gena! 🙂

  9. Looks yummy — I have a huge love for sprouted grains, especially quinoa! Your recipes always look delish.

    Have a great time at the wedding this weekend. One of my besties is getting hitched in a few weeks and I’m in the wedding party, always a good time! It’s the third summer in a row one of my best friends has tied the knot, and there’s one more to go next summer.

  10. This looks great, I’ve never sprouted anything. But this seems simple enough! Have a wonderful time at the wedding!! Congrats to Chloe! XOXO

  11. Enjoy the wedding! This is a summer of weddings for me… I am off to ISRAEL tomorrow for a friend’s wedding and vacay! So excited!

  12. Great tips for sprouting, not gonna lie I was pretty ignorant to the whole process before- thanks for shedding the light on its simplicity to us all 🙂 You’ve actually convinced me to give it a shot.. I think I just heard my b/g groan in the background hehe 😉
    Have fun at your friend’s wedding!!

  13. I’ve been meaning to try sprouting and like most people I think I felt a bit intimidated by the process. You made it look so easy and delicious! I’m going to buy some quinoa today and try sprouting it this weekend 🙂

    Have fun at the wedding and enjoy the yummy vegan dinner!

  14. I have been sprouting mung beans, garbanzo beans and wheatberries. The foodie at my grocery store recomended quiona and I was planning on giving it a try, I wasn’t sure if it can be done.. now I see that in fact you can sprout quionoa 🙂

    Have a blast at the wedding.. 🙂

  15. FUN RECIPE! Mom gave me the SF farmer’s market cookbook for my b-day and my eyes went straight to the spring risotto recipe. Now I have 2 versions to make! My cooking to-do is piling up…

    Have so much fun at your bestie’s wedding 😀

  16. I had no idea that quinoa could be sprouted, so thank you for sharing that with us. I do love quinoa because it is so easy to make a great meal of it in seconds.

    Have a great time at the wedding! BTW, I love the name Chloe!

  17. Hi Gena!
    I just wanted to be yet another person who has loved the sprouting posts! I tried the sprouted wheatberry salad, and intend to keep sprouting now rather than cooking. It’s SO easy and simple!

  18. Have fun at the wedding, and I really love making these sorts of dishes in the spring. I made a springtime risotto earlier: it was FANTASTIC! 😀 I am sure your recipe does just as well!

  19. This is late (I’ve been traveling…), but I found that sprouting post SO interesting!!! It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but have always thought would be too difficult or involved. Now that I know how simple it truly is, I can’t wait to try it when we get home from our travels!

    Yummy dish!

  20. beautiful recipe. i just bought some local asparagus and peas at the farmers market…and now i know what to do with them!! thanks girl!

    besties always cry for one another…it’s love. have so much fun at your girl’s wedding. enjoy your vegan meal darling.


  21. this looks delicious. really. i bought dill just yesterday (to make another one of your recipes — the creamy zucchini soup) so i will be buying the peas to make this complete. thank you for these sprouted grain recipes! i’ve been sprouting a whole bunch of things and this is now on my next to-do list.

    i hope you have a wonderful time at chloe’s wedding. i’m trying to picture my best friend getting married in whatever number of years and what a crazy thought that is. can’t wait to see pictures when you return!

  22. Hey Gena,

    As a proponant of raw, what are your thoughts on potatoes? I go for sweets (potatoes) according to flavor preference and purple Okinawan are my favorite. But I got some small red and fingerling in my produce box and had to indulge by steaming the slices and squirting organic ketchup on top. (I immediately got a cankor sore from the ketchup- oh how cause and effect works in a mostly raw vegan body!)

    Tubers can’t be eaten raw so for strict raw peeps, they are out. And also some raw foodists argue against nightshade vegetables categorically (eggplant, potatoes, etc,). Thoughts?

    I thought potatoes might be a cool topic for discussion some day.

    • Hey Casey,

      It’s really a non-issue for me, since I’m not a strict raw foodist. If I were judging based on what couldn’t be eaten raw, a huge number of foods would disappear from my diet! I think all potatoes are fine in season, and that sweet potatoes are a better choice than white.