Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots and Pecans

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This quinoa pilaf is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans. It makes an earthy and hearty dish.

quinoa

This quinoa pilaf is the kind of dish that will remind you that eating healthy doesn’t have to leave you hungry. It’s one of the reasons I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). It looks like couscous and eats like a grain but it’s actually the tiny seed of a plant related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.

Quinoa is incredibly high in protein and fiber and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. What’s more? It’s gluten-free, cooks quickly (just 15 minutes!) and can take on limitless flavors. Here, the quinoa is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and pecans to make an earthy and hearty dish.

What you’ll need to make Quinoa Pilaf

One of the secrets to making delicious quinoa is to ignore the instructions on the package, which almost always call for too much liquid and result in mushy quinoa. For quinoa that is light, fluffy and slightly crunchy, the ideal ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 1-2/3 cup liquid.


How to make quinoa pilaf

To begin, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. It will look like this when it’s done…

In the meantime, cook the onions gently in olive oil until they start to soften.

Add the diced carrots and thyme and continue to cook until the carrots are just tender.

Next, stir in the shiitake mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are done.

Finally, stir in the cooked quinoa, pecans, and parsley.

That’s all there is to it. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy as a hearty side or meatless main course.

Quinoa-Pilaf

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Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots & Pecans

This quinoa pilaf is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans. It makes an earthy and hearty dish.

Servings: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed or rinsed
  • 1-2/3 cups low sodium chicken broth (best quality such as Swanson), or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted if desired
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and thyme and cook until the carrots are just tender, 5-7 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are cooked through, a few minutes. Season vegetables with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Add cooked quinoa to vegetables and stir in pecans and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or warm.
  4. Note: Shiitakes never come in contact with dirt, so the only washing usually necessary is a gentle wipe with a damp cloth or a paper towel. Use a knife to remove the stems where they meet the cap.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 4 servings
  • Calories: 341
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 186 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I halved this recipe and paired with with your lemon garlic herb chicken breast with a side of sautéed spinach. YUMMY 🤤 I will never make quinoa plain again. The recipe halved just fine and since my household consist of two people it was more than enough. I would say that if you prepare your meals before dinner (I prepare mine in the morning before work) you could totally cook, cool, and refrigerate the quinoa prior to mixing it in with the vegetables. That way when you get home you have one less step and one less pan to wash.

    • — Victoria on April 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Is it necessary to rinse the quinoa before using it in the recipe?

    • — Hildy on March 28, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Hildy, It depends on the brand of quinoa you use. Sometimes it is pre-washed/no-rinse and should say so right on the package. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 28, 2018
      • Reply
  • Can this be frozen? Have made many times but hope it can be frozen.

    • — Sheila on December 9, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Sheila, I’ve never frozen this but I suspect it should work.

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2017
      • Reply
      • I’ve checked other sites and they say you can freeze quinoa. I will be trying it and will let you know how it does. Love the recipe!

        • — Sheila Handel on December 25, 2017
        • Reply
  • One of the best recipes I’ve ever tried. Will be making this again and again.

    • — Linda on August 31, 2017
    • Reply
  • Easy, quick and delicious! Perfect for a veg meal. Very satisfying.

  • Hi Jenn, this was an amazing dish! I substituted an Indian millet called kodo millet for 3/4 of the quinoa, added some celery and yellow nell peppers and substituted brazil nuts for pecans since I didnt have any.
    Thank you so much!

  • This is a go-to, healthy and flavorful quinoa recipe. I wouldn’t change anything about the combination of flavors and have from time to time swapped out the mushrooms for multi-colored chopped peppers. The ratio of water to quinoa advice is spot on and I have adopted that method of cooking whenever I make quinoa. Thank you, Jen!

  • Wow this is awesome! I wanted to use the random items I had, googled quinoa carrot mushroom and struck gold on this recipe.

  • Very nice side dish and a good way to use up left over quinoa. Try chopped hazelnuts as an aromatic alternative to the pecans.

  • Sorry – not vegetarian if it includes chicken broth. There are very good substitutes that don’t include animals parts.

    • Hi Nancy, the recipe includes vegetable broth as an option if you do want to make it vegetarian.

  • Where is the nutrition breakdown that accompanies your recipes?

    • Hi Aimee, I just added them to the recipe. Enjoy!

  • Love the quinoa pilaf! It’s become a favorite.

  • This may be an older recipe, but it is delicious! Made it last night, as directed, and everyone enjoyed it!

  • This is so delicious, Jenn. Perfect in every way – thyme, mushrooms, soft onions and carrots, parsley, pecans – YUM. Thank you!!!

  • Excellent! My daughter who is a vegetarian, my mother-in-law who had never tried quinoa before and the rest of the family all enjoyed the dish.

  • Many thanks Jen for providing simple, delicious, and reliable recipes.

    Made this last night exactly as you wrote it, along with your Curried Roasted Carrots. Super yummy! Everyone went back for seconds!

  • Such an easy and earthy salad! We loved it! My baby and my daughter who can be quite picky finished it all and to be honest it has a flavor and aroma that makes you crave for more. This salad will stay as a weekly staple .
    Thank You Jenn.

  • Once again you came through for me. Made another one of your dishes and it turned out perfect. I used cremini mushrooms because that is all I had. My only wish is that you had more vegetarian recipes for my hubby who is vegetarian. Thank you again for another delicious recipe.

  • Hi Jenn,

    I’m looking forward to trying this but I do have a questions. I’ve never tried Shitake mushrooms and they are quite pricey. Is the taste much different from baby bellas? It it worth it?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kathy, Wild mushrooms are a world apart from regular and, I think, worth the price. Hope that helps!

    • I used baby Bella and it was delicious.

    • Try using 1/2 fresh baby Bella’s & find some dried mushrooms – less price wise & you can use 1/2 the amount and save some for later- I LOVE mushrooms so I always add more than recipe calls for. If you have local Oriental food stores they usually have them much cheaper. They really do add a special flavor, but work within your budget & recipe- what you put in you your recipes you get out, so quality ingredients lead to quality flavor, but it’s fun to be creative! I trust Jen’s recipes. If you like mushrooms you’ll like the earthy flavor of exotics!

  • This dish works as a perfect side or main dish for a vegetarian. The flavor is amazing and it’s colorful. I have a friend with cel iliac disease and this makes a great side when she’s over for dinner. Love it.

  • I made this dish yesterday for company, & what can I say, but.. DELISH! It is a home run, in terms of taste, healthy, & easy.

  • Used vegetarian broth, baby Bellas, and substituted fresh power greens for thyme. Loved this quinoa! Healthy, earthy, hearty, colorful! Easy to assemble, digest, and clean-up after a long day. I’m semi-vegetarian, and gluten-free nevertheless, indulging myself (guilt-free) in your culinary goodness without fail! I’d add fish, chicken, or tofu to this time allowing but felt nutritionally fulfilled as presented.

  • Hi Jen,
    I’d like to make for Easter, but ahead of time. Will dish be okay to make the day/night before, them warmed up right before serving (lunch)? Thank you! Marivic

    • Hi Marivic, Yes, it is fine to make ahead and reheat. Hope everyone enjoys it.

  • Tried this for dinner tonight and loved it. Now I’m wondering what it would taste like if I substituted oregano for the thyme. Any thoughts on this?

    • Hi Donna, If you like oregano, it will work — just go easy as it can be pretty strong 🙂

  • I’ve made this salad several times as I wanted my family to eat Quinoa. Though my kids were OK with it , the adults liked it very much. My husband has taken this to his office and it was a hit with his colleagues. Thanks for a Healthy Recipe.

    Madhuri.

    • — Madhuri Krothapalli
    • Reply
  • Yum! So good. I used dried (reconstituted) shiitakes, as another reviewer did, and also added lots of fresh cremini mushrooms and a finely chopped red bell pepper. I made this as a savory breakfast or brunch alternative to eggs and it hit all the right notes. Definitely going in my regular rotation of make-ahead dishes. Leftovers heated up just as tasty too. To really gild the lily, I also grated a bit of fancy Parmigiano Reggiano over the top of each serving.

  • Very good. Will definitely make again.

  • About 40 pounds ago, I began focusing on healthy, plus delicious, recipes – which is not as difficult as I had fooled myself into believing. This Quinoa Pilaf is a perfect example of a simply delicious healthy recipe; this pilaf, and recipes of its ilk, plus daily walks should help me get my weight lower than the number I never thought I would get up to again.

    Thanks for your inspired recipes and blog, Jenn.

  • I’ve made this several times and it is delicious! My neighbor has a Shitake Mushroom farm and I purchase from him when they are in season. Using your creative genius, fresh Thyme from my herb garden and his mushrooms makes this dish a welcomed addition to backyard dinners.

  • Love this recipe – it’s a little bit of a chore to chop all the vegetables but simple and quick to combine once everything is chopped and ready to go.
    I use vegetable broth (bouillon cubes) and it’s a great vegetarian dish. Eaten cold the next day it’s still really tasty!

  • This was so good! We love quinoa and I’m always looking for new ways to make it. I could only
    find regular mushrooms and it still turned out great!

  • Made this dish tonight and loved it. We’ve been trying to incorporate quinoa into our diet but couldn’t find a recipe that made the dish taste good. Well, this recipe is it! Love it (and quinoa)! This is a keeper, and now we’ll be eating quinoa more often. Thank you!

  • This was such a visually pleasing side dish to accompany my roast chicken. I omitted the pecans, thyme and parsley and it still turned out very tasty!

  • I don’t like mushroom so I made this without and I really liked it. Super easy to make and kept for leftovers pretty well. Just heated it up the next day for lunch.

  • I served this pilaf with your perfectly grilled chicken and it was a hit. I can see this combo making a regular appearance on our dinner table.

  • This is a great recipe. The shiitaki’s make a huge difference in dealing with the quinoa flavors, which I’ll admit, I dislike. I do, however, like the health benefits of quinoa, so I keep trying recipes to deal with it! ha! One thing I did do was use 1/4 oz of dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Once they were soft, I minced them up and threw them in, and used that amazing broth they had made (about a cup) with the remaining 2/3 cup of chicken broth instead of all chicken broth. Nice nutty flavor and even more strongly tasted of mushrooms.

  • As already posted I would do the same cut back on the tyme. I did add some lemon juice to counteract the strong tyme flavor and it was delicious.

  • I really liked this dish. I used veggie broth instead of chicken and served it with braised bok choy and baked ginger tofu. It was really good

  • used less dried thyme and NO mushrooms…. i hate mushrooms! 🙂

  • I would recommend soaking the quinoa in water for 5 -10 minutes then rinsing before cooking to remove the fine dust that can add a bitter taste to the dish

  • I am going to have to try this. The pics make it easy enough for someone like me (aka not best cook) to make

  • Very versatile recipe. As we’re vegetarian, I make it with either vegetable broth or just water. Sometimes, I add Indian spices to make it taste a little different.

  • I have been trying to cut back on meat and quinoa is my new go to food. i have made this several times and love it. the second time i did not have mushrooms, it was good but better with them. i often just throw whatever additional vegetables i have on hand into this.

  • Love this recipe, but I agree with others that if you use dried thyme, it needs to be cut back. Tried it without mushrooms, but loved it more with.

  • I’ve made this recipe several times and, in so doing, have made new fans of my cooking. It’s a great way to serve an extremely healthy ingredient (quinoa) to people who are trying to learn about it, or who already know its taste and health benefits and appreciate a tasty rendition. Most recently, I served it at a lunch party with a hearty green salad, a loaf of French bread, and a lovely bottle of dry white wine.

    The only change I’ve made has been to add chopped red pepper to the onion, carrot, and mushroom sautee. The pepper adds a very pretty dash of color and flavor, giving the dish a festive look and taste. I find the thyme to be the perfect herb to bring this dish together.

    I’ve served this warm and straight from the ‘fridge as a snack. Like most quinoa recipes, this one is versatile recipe, and oh-so-tasty.

  • Fabulous recipe! I added an extra carrot and sauteed some diced asparagus with the carrots.

  • Delicious!! My kids ate it as well.

  • I made this for lunch and it is yummy. The only thing I would change based on my personal taste is the amount of thyme and mushrooms. I love mushrooms, so I would add more the next time I make and use a little less thyme. The addition of the pecans adds a nice texture to the dish. Not sure if my family (a 5yr & 2 yr) will eat it, but I will. It makes a great alternative to pizza night.

  • This is a fantastic recipe. The flavors and textures bend together beautifully, and if there are any leftovers, the flavors only get better. Quinoa is so healthy for you, which makes it all the better. We paired it with grilled pork chops. Great meal.

  • fabulous and healthy, it does not get better then that !!
    Jennifer, I love the new site

  • as a gluten-free vegetarian, this recipe is tailor-made for me. looks delicious!! (i’d use vegetable stock). i love the addition of the richness of pecans.

  • Looks delicious! I am planning to make it tomorrow night. Thank you!

  • Always looking for tasty Quinoa recipes. Thanks!

  • You made me try quinoa again and I’m glad I did. This is delicious and a wonderful difference to my usual sides.

  • Just found your site and love trying your recipes on my family. Our dinners are filled with less conversations and more moans of enjoyment. Thanks.

  • This is wonderful. We have been trying to be a bit more healthy in our eating habits. This recipe fits right in. It’s delish & a very healthy way to eat.
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I look forward to them…….

  • Just delicious. My husband liked it as much as the lamb chops.

  • This looks delicious! Any excuse to break out the quinoa! Love it!

  • Gonna try this as quinoa is so good for you and so hard to incorporate into everyday cooking!

  • Despite always putting a heaping spoonful of quinoa on my salad at Whole Foods, I’ve never tried making a dish with it myself! This looks so easy and colorful – can’t wait to try it.

  • Have been looking for a new way to use quinoa, will try this next!! Thanks!

  • First time trying Quinoa and was impressed with the results. Surprisingly easy to make.

  • I’m always searching for side dishes and this sounds very interesting.

  • Looks fantastic. I’ve been looking for a flavorful quiona recipe…and now I’ve found it!

  • I love this…Will make it again

  • I cannot wait to try this delicious looking recipe! I’ve been wanting to try quinoa for some time, and this looks like it will satisfy all my picky eaters!

  • How would it be with barley?

    • Debbie, Probably delicious. Let me know how it comes out if you try it!

  • Quinoa! So delicious!! Any recipe involving quinoa is worth a try!! Love it!

  • I made this recipe when you first posted it, and it was great, the way you cook the quinoa was good, not mushy and I like the flavor of the Shiitake Mushrooms , this recipe was very flavorful and filling, thanks.

  • My famiy and I are trying to eat more on the healthy side, and this dish looks so good. I can’t wait to try it. Do you have any recipes for someone alergic to nickle. Will appreciate the recipes. Thank you.

  • Made this the other night . Very good and thanks for the tip about using less water to cook the Quinoa than the back of the package says. Tastes much better!

  • Giving this a try! I made quinoa, but didn’t season with veggies etc….it wasn’t a hit! Will try this & see what the family thinks! Thanks

  • SO GLAD TO HAVE THIS WONDERFUL RECIPE-VERY SIMILAR TO A SALAD I WAS GETTING FROM MY LOCAL CO-OP-KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK-THANK-YOU

  • This looks great and I like your alternative recipe for making the quinoa. I use an alternative recipe for quinoa too. Mine uses 1 cup quinoa and 1 1/4 cup stock. Bring the stock to a simmer, add quinoa, then reduce to low (not to a simmer). Cook for 25-30 minutes. Pull off heat and allow to sit for another 5 minutes. It makes it fluffy and keeps a bite as well. I’ll have to try your quicker version tonight!

  • I hope this recipe will convert my Quinoa – hating husband … I keep trying … if not, more for me !

  • What a wonderful recipe! I’ve made it twice already, and it goes so well with poultry and fish. I don’t care for nuts, so I left them out. I added a bit of jalapeno pepper the 2nd time I made it–very good!

  • I have been eating quinoa quite a bit over this past year and always love to try new recipes….this one looks like a winner!

    • — Elizabeth Tammaro
    • Reply
  • This is heavenly. I made it twice since it was published and shared it with friends. Yum!!! Thanks Jennifer!

  • Love this recipe. Just started using using quinoa to replace both white and brown rice. Fantastic source of amino acids and protein.

  • Loved this one! Tried it last week. Thank you for posting!

  • Great Easy recipe to make in no time. Jen your recipes ROCK!

  • I cannot wait to try this –
    I love quinoa!
    Thanks!

  • I made this recipe last week and it was sooo delicious! I will definitely be making Quinoa again with my own little spin.

  • can’t wait to make this!!!

  • Thanks for the tip on cooking Quinoa. I tried it with this recipe and it did make a tasty difference. The was delicious…really enjoyed the pecans! YUM!

  • My daughter is a vegetarian and I made this dish for her and it was a total WINNER!!

  • This looks yummy! I love Quinoa and this combination looks delicious….as always, you have fabulous recipes! And now a great giveaway!

  • Just made it and everyone in my family loved it so much! Very tasty 🙂

  • This got rave reviews from hubby and a girlfriend who came for dinner. I served it as a main dish along with a spinach salad (baby spinach, red onion, mandarin oranges, sprinkled Feta cheese, with balsamic vinaigrette).

    The only thing I did differently was to dry heat the already rinsed and dried quinoa for a few minutes — until there’s a pleasant nutty smell, which adds a nice flavor to it when cooked.

    Thanks!

  • Jen! This dish is DELICIOUS!!! Thank you for sharing such a tasty and HEALTHY recipe! I had never had quinoa before and had been wanting to try it (it’s great). I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms but I went ahead and tried the shiitakes, and they are GREAT! I really, really like their flavor. This is a recipe I will be keeping for good 🙂

  • Very delicious! I love the crunch that the pecans add. I added a little lemon pepper at the end and it gave it a cool flavor kick. Thank you 🙂

  • made this and it was delish!! So easy too. I used the baby bellas instead of shiitake shrooms and left out pecans…first time I’ve ever prepared or eaten quinoa. Now I have a whole bag so need to get more recipes. . Rinsing it was the only tricky part as some went right through the strainer.

  • Can you use anything other than pecans. They were outrageous at the store !

    • Tawni, You can use any nut you like, or simply leave them out…will still be delicious.

    • can i substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth? will it taste the same?

      • Reyna, You can definitely substitute vegetable broth. The taste won’t be exactly the same but it will still be delicious.

  • Bonjour Jennifer,
    I really like your new website! very classy, and love your recipes and would like to be able to store them for later use without having to search them through the site.
    Do you think it would be possible to add a “recipe box” on the website where we could keep our favorites for quick reference?
    Love your story, I am from France and was also an au pair to learn English.
    I have to tell you that your beef stew recipe is most amazing and the next best thing after the boeuf Bourguignon I grew up with. I make It all the time now because it’s not as involved as the Bourguignon and just as good. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all those wonderfully recipes.
    Isabelle

    • Thank you, Isabelle! Looking into the recipe box…

  • You make healthy eating look like a trip to Paris and eating in a beautiful restaurant.
    I’m making this tomorrow.
    Thank you!

    • Niya, Now you’ve made me want to go to Paris and eat in a beautiful restaurant…we can dream 🙂

  • I love the suggestion to add less liquid. I was just inspired by you to make quinoa and it came out much fluffier than usual. Thank you!

  • I cannot wait to try this- I love quinoa! Thanks again, Jen!! 🙂

  • Oh yummy and so comfy! Might just make it for dinner tonight. Thank you 🙂

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