Quinoa Pilaf with Chickpeas, Currants & Almonds

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Leery of health foods with names you can’t pronounce? Me too, which is why it took me so long to discover quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), otherwise known as the “Supergrain of the Future.”

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Though it looks like couscous, it’s actually not a grain at all, but rather the seed of a plant that’s related to beets, chard and spinach. It’s incredibly high in protein and boasts all kinds of health-building nutrients. It’s also gluten free. Still with me?

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Good…because if you cook it right, it’s delicious. I promise.

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Here I’ve taken a page from the aromatic couscous dishes of North Africa, flavoring it with onions, garlic, chicken broth and spices, then adding currants, chickpeas and toasted almonds. It’s a terrific accompaniment to any simply prepared entrée…and it’s just as good cold for lunch or a picnic.

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If you’re at all hesitant about using curry powder or cumin, not to worry…the flavors here are very mild and work well together. The currants and honey complement the spices with a touch of delicious sweetness, and the chickpeas and almonds add protein and crunch.

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Give it a try. My husband loves it, and he has no idea how good it is for him.

Quinoa Pilaf with Chickpeas, Currants & Almonds
Printable Recipe

Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions (you’ll need one medium onion)
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup pre-washed quinoa (if not pre-washed, follow package instructions for rinsing)*
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (I use Swanson Organic)
¼ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup currants
½ cup chick peas (canned or fresh)**
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted if desired
½ teaspoon honey


1. Melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat in medium pan. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add quinoa and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, then add chicken broth, curry powder, cumin, salt, cayenne, currants, and chick peas and bring to a gentle boil. Cover tightly with lid and turn heat down to a simmer; cook until quinoa is done, about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the grains become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.

2. Add honey and almonds, stir and fluff with a fork, then season to taste with salt if necessary.

*Quinoa is available in the organic aisle of my regular supermarket. You can also find it at Whole Foods or other specialty food markets.

**As an alternative to canned chickpeas, get them fresh from the salad bar at Whole Foods. They are far superior! If using canned, just be sure to rinse well.


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  • It looks fantastic!

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  • looks good, I just made red quinooa but it came out bland, just followed the package directions. Yours looks much more flavorful. I will omit nuts as my son is allergic to them. Thank you for sharing. I love your recipes!! If I don’t have chicken broth do you have any other suggestions for a substitute?

  • Daphna, You are right, plain quinoa is very bland…but it takes on other flavors beautifully which is why I like it with onions, garlic, spices, etc. If you don’t have chicken broth, you could substitute vegetable broth. I wouldn’t suggest making it with just water….it needs more flavor. Hope that helps!

  • I love that stuff! I managed a health food store for 14 years…brings back memories. I need to go cook some up!

  • Suzanne

    I made this last night and it was very good. My daughter cannot have gluten so quinoa is a great alternative to rice or pasta. Usually I make her something special but this was great because the whole family liked it. I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks so much. I love getting your recipes!

  • Delicious. A definite keeper. The only variation I made was using vegetable broth instead of chicken and chopping raisins to replace the currants. I’d been looking for something to do with the large bag of quinoa I bought at Costco. Glad I bought it now.

  • Carrie H

    I made this last night and WOW this was fantastic and flavorful! I love quinoa and having a recipe as delicious as this is fantastic. I didn’t change a thing and it was perfect Thanks so much, your recipes are the best!

  • Becki

    Wonderful! This is on our permanent menu. We are vegetarians so we used vegetable broth and Trader Joe’s mixed Quinoa blend and it was so superb. Thanks for posting it and we look for more great recipes from you.

  • Natalie

    As with every recipe I’ve tried, this one was marvelous. I followed it almost exactly, adding a little extra garbanzos and currants, but my oh my! Delicious!
    Thank you once again!

  • Amanda

    A great and easy side dish for the fall!

  • Melissa

    I have been making this with a curry recipe I have. It compliments the main dish very well. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

  • Janice

    This dish is a great side….and so healthy too! I love your simple yet filling and healthy recipes. Keep up the good work!

  • Sue

    I’ve made this a couple of times now, and keep it in the fridge for my son to snack on, after work, before dinner is ready. Much healthier than him grabbing a cookie, some chips or other such snack, and he loves the taste.

  • Esther

    I had never tried Quinoa before & wanted to try it so this recipe was a great way to try something really new – it was really good! I did not use currants (only because I really dislike currants or raisins) – I used dried cherries instead. This was great, healthy and I have added it to my go-to recipes. Thanks!

  • Rachel

    I love how all the ingredients come together to make a very satisfying salad. I swapped craisins for the raisins and added about 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Delish!

  • i love the recipes with quinoa. this is such a good recipe because it has the added veggies to make it a rounded-out meal. thanks

  • Jessica

    Just made this for dinner tonight and my toddler looooved it! He hates meat so this was a great, protein packed meal for him! I omitted the cayenne bc of the little guy, but it was still so flavorful! Thanks so much for this new addition to our recipe box!

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