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Saffron Quinoa with Spring Vegetables

Quinoa is one of my favorite gluten-free grains. It looks and tastes beautiful with the saffron added. When eggplant, peppers and tomato are truly in season, use them. In earlier summer, use green beans plus pantry staples of olives and garbanzo beans. Adding fresh herbs at the end always lends a bright flavor note and lots of antioxidants.


  • ¼ cup warm or hot water
  • A pinch of saffron threads check out Rumi Spice saffron for saffron with a cause
  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil if desired
  • 1 cup sliced leek or onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sliced snow or sugar snap peas about 12 medium peas
  • 1 cup asparagus sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 8 medium spears)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest from an organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or sliced or slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley with a bit of chives or dill
  • Drizzle of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese if that's how you roll


  • Soak the saffron in the ¼ cup of water for at least 5 minutes. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the leek or onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the quinoa and toast it. Add the saffron and the soaking water. Add the broth. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 12 minutes on the heat. Remove from the heat and add the peas and asparagus. Replace the cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Check to be sure that the quinoa is cooked through (it will have little white rings). Stir and add the lemon zest pine nuts or almonds and herbs. When ready to serve, add the lemon olive oil or lemon juice right before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Pressure cooking directions: Follow the same directions as above (but use 1 1 1/4 cups liquid total instead of 1 3/4 cups), locking the lid on the pressure cooker and bringing to high pressure for 5 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. When the pressure drops, carefully open the lid tilting it away from you, add the asparagus and peas and put the lid back on for 2 minutes. Stir, add lemon zest, nuts and herbs.
  • Note: My method for cooking perfect quinoa every time includes decreasing the amount of water by ¼ cup for each additional cup of grain. For example, when making 2 cups of quinoa, use only 3 ¼ cups liquid on the stove top (or 2 1/4 cups in the pressure cooker). When making 3 cups, use 5 cups of liquid (or 3 cups in the pressure cooker).


©2013, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, The Veggie Queen, https://theveggiequeen.com