Quinoa Pilaf With Spinach and Pancetta 8.000

Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

Nourish Jun 15, 2011

Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a month’s worth of weekly Nourish recipes that feature whole grains.

Quinoa is not really a grain, but the seed is treated like one. It comes packed with protein, which makes it a good non-animal source of amino acids. Although the name sounds exotic (KEEN-wah or KEE-wah), it tastes fairly bland.

One solution: Cook it like a rice pilaf. Chicken broth, onions and pancetta all bring flavor. When the pilaf’s done, I combine the hot, creamy quinoa with baby spinach.

And a caveat: Rinse the quinoa well before cooking. It is naturally coated with bitter-tasting saponins.

Servings: 8
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup dried quinoa, well rinsed (see headnote)
  • 1 3/4 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, rinsed and air-dried


Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat, until the oil shimmers. Add the pancetta; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta starts to brown.

Add the onion, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until onion softens. Add the quinoa, broth and pepper to taste. Once the broth starts to bubble, cover the pot; reduce the heat so the broth maintains a low boil. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the quinoa turns translucent, is tender and the outer coating of each grain splits off a bit. The mixture will be creamy. Remove from the heat.

Place the baby spinach in a large heatproof bowl; add the hot quinoa mixture and use tongs to incorporate the spinach, which should wilt.

Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

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