Jeweled Saffron Quinoa Recipe

Light and flavorful saffron quinoa studded with chopped vegetables and fruits makes a beautiful side dish inspired by Middle Eastern and North African jeweled rice recipes.

Summer 2018

  • saffron
    Red-orange threads of dried saffron release their flavor better when given time to rehydrate, so add the spice to your dish early for best results. For dishes that require consistent color, such as the Saffron Custard recipe, opposite, you can soak the threads in warm liquid for 15 to 30 minutes before use, and then mix in the steeping liquid.
    Photo by Getty Images/barmalini
  • saffron

Total Hands-On Time: 30 min.

Yield: 3 cups

Serve this jeweled saffron quinoa as a healthy side dish with an entrée, or as a light lunch.


  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water (or vegetable or chicken broth)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and water (or broth) to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook the quinoa for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the water or broth is absorbed. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the green onions, garlic, carrots, and salt and pepper. Sauté gently until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the saffron threads and cooked quinoa. Heat until warm.
  3. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Top with cashews, parsley, cranberries, tomatoes, and lemon zest. Stir and serve. 

Learn more about this coveted spice’s history and how to grow saffron in Garden Gold: Grow Your Own Saffron.

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