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This hearty quinoa pilaf is made with sweet potatoes, shredded Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Colourful, seasonal, and nutritious – it’s a wonderful grain and vegetable-based side dish for holiday dinners and beyond! Recipe is both vegan and gluten-free.

Quinoa pilaf with vegetables in a serving bowl.

What is a pilaf?

A pilaf is traditionally a type of rice dish cooked in either a stock or broth, along with other spices, seasonings, vegetables, meats, and/or dried fruits. Pilaf is common in many different cultures, with Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Latin American cuisines all having their own variations.

While this quinoa pilaf is by no means a traditional dish, it follows similar themes of cooking quinoa (rather than rice) in a broth and pairing it with veggies, dried fruit, and more. As a dietitian, I’m a big fan of quinoa and it’s impressive nutrition profile!

Looking for more grain and veggie side dish ideas? You may also enjoy my vegetarian couscous stuffed peppers, this quinoa stuffed delicata squash, or my coconut curry rice with vegetables!

Recipe ingredients in small bowls.

About the ingredients + possible substitutions

  1. Quinoa: While I used white quinoa for this pilaf, you may use any colour of quinoa – black, white, red, or tri-coloured varieties are all available.
  2. Vegetable broth: I used a low-sodium veggie broth to keep this recipe plant-based, but you are welcome to substitute with chicken broth if preferred.
  3. Olive oil
  4. Yellow onion: You are welcome to substitute with a shallot, or omit if you do not tolerate onion.
  5. Garlic
  6. Sweet potato: I like to use either the Jewel or Garnett sweet potatoes, but you are welcome to use any variety you like. I love the rich orange colour that these bring to the dish.
  7. Brussels sprouts: I shredded the brussels sprouts for this recipe using a sharp chef’s knife and cutting thin slices through each sprout. You are welcome to shred them using a mandolin or in a food processor (the fastest option!)
  8. Dried cranberries: While I love how festive dried cranberries are here (if you are making this for the holiday season), you could likely do this recipe with golden raisins too. They add a nice sweetness and chewy texture to this recipe.
  9. Sliced almonds: I purchase pre-sliced almonds in the bulk section at my grocery store, but you can also find them online. If preferred, you could probably swap with chopped up pecans – I think they would taste wonderful as well! If you need to follow a nut-free diet, simply omit the almonds.
  10. Dried thyme: I love this herb for added flavour in fall and winter dishes.
  11. Red wine vinegar: Along with the broth, the quinoa is cooked in red wine vinegar for a touch of acidity. I love the way red wine vinegar complements the heartier flavours of this dish, but you are welcome to swap with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if that’s what you have on hand.

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Visual guide: how to make quinoa pilaf

Cooking quinoa with veggie broth.

STEP 1: Start by rinsing your quinoa and cooking it with the veggie broth and red wine vinegar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. If you need more tips, I have an in-depth blog post covering how to cook quinoa!

Sautéing sweet potato cubes with garlic and onion.

STEP 2: While the quinoa cooks, heat olive oil on a large pan. Sauté the diced onions, minced garlic, chopped sweet potatoes, and thyme.

Adding shredded brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes in pan.

STEP 3: After 10 minutes, add in the shredded Brussels sprouts. Continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Adding cooked quinoa, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds to veggies in pan.

STEP 4: Turn off the heat, then add in the cooked quinoa, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds.

Quinoa pilaf cooked in pan.

STEP 5: Stir everything together until all the ingredients are well-combined. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve warm :).

Serving ideas

Because this is a grain and vegetable-based side dish, I recommend serving this quinoa pilaf with a protein to make a nutritionally-balanced meal.

This would go with all sorts of proteins, but I think it would work best with heartier protein dishes that complement the veggies and flavours here.

Think: grilled chicken, roasted turkey, or steak. I also love this with some baked salmon, or you could do baked tofu steaks for a vegan option!

Quinoa nutrition benefits

Quinoa is a complete protein, providing 8 grams in one cup of cooked quinoa. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, with 5 grams in one cup.

From a micronutrient standpoint, one cup of cooked quinoa provides:

  • manganese – 58% of the DV
  • magnesium – 30% of the DV
  • phosphorus – 28% of the DV
  • folate – 19% of the DV
  • copper – 18% of the DV
  • iron – 15% of the DV
  • zinc – 13% of the DV

Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free, making it a great starch option for those on a gluten-free diet.

Quinoa pilaf with vegetables in a serving bowl.

More healthy quinoa recipes

Did you give this Quinoa Pilaf Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: Quinoa Pilaf With Vegetables (Side Dish!)

This hearty quinoa pilaf is made with sweet potatoes, shredded Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Colourful, seasonal, and nutritious – it's a wonderful grain and vegetable-based side dish for holiday dinners and beyond! Recipe is both vegan and gluten-free.
Quinoa pilaf with vegetables in a serving bowl.
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5 from 3 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (dry/uncooked)
  • 1 + 3/4 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar work as well)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled + cut into 1/2-inch cubes (approx. 4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups brussels sprouts, shredded (use a knife, mandolin, or food processor to shred)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • COOK QUINOA: Rinse quinoa in a sieve and transfer to a large pot. Stir in vegetable broth and red wine vinegar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat when done and leave covered. Fluff quinoa with a fork once ready to add to the rest of the dish.
  • In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic, onion, sweet potato, and thyme. Season with salt + pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Then, add in shredded brussels sprouts and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Add cooked quinoa, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds to the pan. Stir with veggies until everything is well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve warm!

Notes

*LEFTOVERS: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for 3-5 days. You can easily reheat them on the stove or in the microwave.
*SERVE WITH: Because this is a grain and vegetable-based side dish, I recommend serving this with a protein to make a nutritionally-balanced meal. It would work best with heartier protein dishes that complement the veggies and flavours here. Think: grilled chicken, roasted turkey, or steak. I also love this with some baked salmon, or you could do tofu steaks for a vegan option!
Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Potassium: 611mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 8401IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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Pinterest graphic for a winter quinoa pilaf with vegtables.
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