Pistachio Quinoa Pilaf with Harissa


Quinoa is one of those amazing healthy foods that I enjoy but nonetheless neglect when it comes to thinking up fun recipes. Lately, my grain experimentation has mainly included bulgur and farro, but I decided to fix that pronto. Quinoa is a seed, actually – not a grain, but you catch my drift…

Did you know?

  • Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain and related to the spinach family. It has been grown for centuries in South America, where it was a staple of the Incan diet.
  • Quinoa is a great source of both protein and fiber. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also an excellent source of magnesium, copper, calcium, phosphorous and zinc.
  • Quinoa is easily digested and gluten-free.
  • It is sold in three varieties, white, red, and black. They are all nutritionally identical, with red having slightly more fiber


Anyway, I wanted to throw together some quinoa with nuts to make a filling dish that could compliment some tasty fish I picked up at the store. I was contemplating how best to put this all together when I had a brainwaive: Harissa! Yes, my new favorite condiment would be the perfect way to kick up some healthy quinoa. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been on a bit of a harissa kick lately thanks to my friends at Mina Harissa, who send some some amazing spicy harissa to sample. I’ve been adding it to everything lately – potatoes, scrambled eggs and last week I made Red Lentil Cakes as well.

I decided to give the dish some Persian/Moroccan flavors: Garlic, lemon, parsley, and a host of fun spices like ginger, cinnamon and cumin. The result was a spicy, complex and filling dish that works as both a side and a main course. Last night, I made this with some fish and tonight I’m eating the leftovers for dinner. I am contemplating adding a fried egg on top with an extra drizzle of harissa.

Want more tasty quinoa recipes? Try some of my favorites:


Pistachio Quinoa Pilaf with Harissa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Grains
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (red or white)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups of water or veggie broth
  • 1-2 tbsp harissa (test for your spicy threshhold)
  • ¼ cup parsley, washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  1. In a medium pot, saute onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil on medium heat for 4-5 minutes
  2. Add quinoa and water
  3. Cover and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until water is absorbed, 10-12 minutes
  5. When water is absorbed, stir in remaining ingredients and serve warm or cold



Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 10.06.17 PM



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11 Responses to Pistachio Quinoa Pilaf with Harissa

  1. I did know and I love quinoa. I also experiment with it from time to time and am always happy to find a new interesting recipe.

  2. yummychunklet March 27, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    Delicious looking quinoa dish!

  3. Colleen @ Culinary Colleen March 27, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    I keep meaning to buy harissa but always forget when I’m at the store (or, a store that would actually carry it). Sounds like a great addition!

    • Dara March 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      I’ve found it in a varities of stores – you usually need to ask because the tiny jars are tough to spot. For some reason it’s usually stocked near jars of artichokes…

  4. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies March 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Adding harissa to this would be perfect–I love it!

  5. Angie@Angie's Recipes March 28, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Dara, I love this protein packed healthy dish. I would probably add more harissa :-)) Love the stuff!

  6. Soni March 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    I’m a big Quinoa lover and this Pilaf is right up my alley :) I’ve never tried harissa though!Sounds really good!

  7. Liz March 29, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Oh, yeah! What an amazing, flavorful quinoa dish!

  8. mjskit March 31, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Finally bought some quinoa the other day and here you provide me with so many delicious choices. Oh which one, which one? Since I love spicy, this one looks pretty darn good! Thanks for the great recipes! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  9. Mommypage April 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    This recipe looks so delicious! We love quinoa, it is so healthy and packed with protein. We are excited to try your recipe.


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