Monday, January 9, 2023

Quinoa with Pine Nuts and Cilantro

quinoa with toasted pine nuts

If you love quinoa and are looking for an exciting side dish, this recipe will win you over. 

Finding a variety of ways to enjoy quinoa is easier than you think. 

Twice a month, I participate in a pot luck couples dinner with a group of friends. I am usually asked to bring a gluten-free vegan side dish that I am able to eat (being the only one who is gluten-free and vegan).

It's been an interesting challenge for me to come up with different ways of preparing rice, quinoa, or potatoes to be able to bring something different each time we meet. 

pine nuts in a bowl

For this recipe, I decided to add toasted pine nuts or pignoli (as they are called in Italian) to add to my quinoa.

Where Do You Find Pine Nuts ?
Who would have ever thought that pine nuts actually come from pine trees! In fact, the nuts are the seeds found in the pine cones of the pinyon pine tree which is a small evergreen.

pine cones

Pine nuts are expensive because they are difficult to harvest.  
However, they really make any dish extra special. 

In Florida, I am able to get an ounce and half of pine nuts for about $4 which is the perfect amount for this recipe. 

The theme of our pot luck this week is Iranian/Persian food. I was asked to make something to complement the main entree of Iranian/Persian meatballs. 

Of course, I won't eat the meatballs, but I will eat this quinoa dish. In addition, I'll eat the salad and vegetable dishes. 

This wonderful Meditteranean style recipe is easy to make and will delight your taste buds. I toast the pine nuts to bring out a richer creamier texture and flavor. I cook the quinoa with some cardamom to give it a slightly sweet flavor which is very typical of some Persian dishes.

3 cups of uncooked quinoa 
1 ounce of pine nuts, pan toasted (see notes)
1 cup of chopped tomato
3/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds, divided
optional: 6-8 cardamom pods

1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice. 
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of honey (or agave if you don't use honey)
Mix the lime, water, and honey until blended.

Cook quinoa according to the package directions or (use my easy Instant Pot recipe) adding the cardamom pods and 1/2 the cumin seeds. When the quinoa is done, allow it to cool slightly and then toss with remainder of ingredients and the dressing.  


How to toast the pine nuts
Heat a skillet, place the pine nuts in the pan and toast for about 2-3 minutes and shake to prevent burning.
Did you know that quinoa contains a significant amount of protein?  
Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein- same as a 8 ounce glass of milk
  • I cup of cooked quinoa has 5 grams of fiber.
  • Quinoa is actually a seed but is considered a whole grain
  • Quinoa is also gluten-free 

Though technically a seed, Quinoa is classified as a whole grain and is a good source of plant protein and fiber. One cup cooked provides about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. .  



  1. This looks wonderful! Would love mine with lots of pine nuts.

  2. We like quinoa and find it filling and satisfying. We eat it regularly. With pine nuts is a great idea.

  3. Love me some quinoa! Pine nuts I would love to get from the trees here, though haven’t yet. I won’t buy them at the store. Ohhh, your dressing sounds delish!!! Refreshing. I love that.

  4. This sound like a great dish and very appealing with the toasted pine nuts.

  5. Looks colourful and inviting ...

    All the best Jan

  6. I remember a friend from Croatia telling us how they used to go on family drives and stop the car to gather pine nuts!


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