Lemon Saffron Quinoa

Karen, FamilyStyle Food

I think the surest way to turn a person off from trying a new food is to say it’s “good” for you. It’s kind of like screaming “Open wide, here comes a spoonful of medicine!”

Thankfully, it’s not really necessary to announce that quinoa happens to be an ancient superfood of the gods – one of the most nutritious foods on the planet – loaded with calcium, protein, an array of minerals and vitamins and also happens to be gluten free and quick-cooking.

No, you can skip all that and just start serving quinoa in place of the usual pasta or rice. My kids think it’s a lot like couscous because of the tiny size of the grains. But quinoa is actually a seed with a fresh, grassy flavor that is well suited to zesty treatments like this saffron-infused, lemony pilaf. The saffron lends an exotic note and beautiful color to this easy side dish.

Lemon Saffron Quinoa
By Karen
Serves 4


3 tablespoons butter
1 finely chopped shallot
1 cup quinoa
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Fresh grated zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint


Melt the butter in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the quinoa and saffron, stirring to coat the grains. Cook until the quinoa begins to pop; add the salt and water. Bring to a simmer; lower the heat, cover the pan and cook about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in lemon zest, juice, pistachios and mint.

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4 thoughts on “Lemon Saffron Quinoa

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  1. Tracy said:

    Would walnuts work OK? Thats all I have , beside a deluxe mix of mixed salted nuts.

  2. realbutter said:

    Tracy – walnuts would be great!

  3. Maribel Rodriguez said:

    This is a great recipe. I cooked as a side dish and served with lamb chops. I’m going to cook it again but will add shrimp, asparagus and will served it as a salad.
    I guess you can use this recipe as a base and just vary some ingredients. Thanks.