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Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms, Scallions, and Walnuts

You probably don’t watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette—I’m sure you prefer cool, edgy, programs that straddle boundary lines and promote stimulating conversation (or at least, you tell people you do). Rich and I shamelessly look forward to Monday nights and have been watching every season since we got married – truth be told he spends most of the show looking at his phone and we always watched it DVRed because the commercials are constant, but it’s our Monday night date. I’ll never forget an episode from years ago when one of the contestants told the lovely Emily over dinner that she “should try this, it’s called kwin-oh-ah.” Well shucks, that’s embarrassing. The poor guy was talking about quinoa, but pronounced it the way all of my students used to.

This dish tastes wonderfully fresh and would be the perfect make-ahead side for a party, though I love it for lunch.  For dinner it pairs well with fish, poultry, or even red meat. The walnuts lend a roast-y warm taste and a surprising crunch—just make sure to toast them first.

A quick word on technique: You’ll notice the word “rinsed” next to the quinoa in the ingredients list. Quinoa is technically a seed and is coated with a substance called saponin, which makes birds and insects avoid it due to the bitter flavor. Unless the package you buy specifically says it’s rinsed, make sure to give it a quick shower. Just place in a sieve with very small holes and run water over it for about thirty seconds.

Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms, Scallions and Walnuts
Serves six

2 c. water

1 c. quinoa, rinsed

1 tbsp. olive oil

16 oz white button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 c. sliced scallions

1/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted


2 tbsp. plain yogurt (Greek or traditional works)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. finely chopped basil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Heat water in a small saucepan until boiling. Add quinoa and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.

2. Heat oil in nonstick skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid has been released and evaporated and mushrooms are golden brown.

3. Combine quinoa, mushrooms, scallions and walnuts in a serving/mixing bowl.


4. In a separate bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.


5. Pour dressing ingredients over quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Serve or refrigerate (can be eaten warm, cold, or room temperature)