Last updated on November 19th, 2015
I love wheat. I love meat. I love sugary French desserts. But I also love quinoa! It’s a “super seed” with a delightful crunch and a neutral taste. Toss it with sauteed leeks, fresh sage, and sun-dried tomatoes, as I did the other day, and BAM — you’ll have a Thanksgiving “stuffing” that even your gluten-avoiding friends can enjoy.
For this recipe, I used leeks and sage from my garden, and quinoa from my Lousy Local Supermarket®. The seed comes in three colors — white, red, and black. You can use just one color, or do what I did, and purchase a tri-color mix. Quinoa cooks in the same easy manner as rice.
Hungry for a stuffing that won’t make you feel stuffed? Need a Thanksgiving side dish that you can make well in advance? Need a touch of elegance for a pot-luck party? This flavor festival is for you.
Here’s the step-by-step (you’ll find a printable version with exact quantities at the end of the post):
To start, tip the quinoa into a 4-quart pot, and add some vegetable stock and salt. Bring to a full boil, then cover the pot, lower the heat, and let the seeds simmer quietly until the liquid is absorbed — 15-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, run out to the garden (or visit your farmers’ market or grocery store), and fetch 2 fat leeks.
Wash the leeks (here’s how), and dice the white and tender green parts.
Then dice up 4 or 5 garlic cloves…
And 7-10 sage leaves, which will give the stuffing a lovely “smoky” scent.
Next, obtain some beautiful-beautiful sun-dried tomatoes (about 4 oz), and chop them into small pieces. The tomatoes pictured above were a gift from my awesome friends Robert Bluman and David Deutsch, who grew and processed the fruit themselves. Don’t pretend you’re not impressed.
Oh. Be sure to use sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in olive oil. Any jarred version will work.
Then coarsely chop some flat-leaved parsley…
Now heat some butter and olive oil in a large skillet (omit the butter is you must)…
And some salt and freshly-ground pepper.
Saute until the leeks soften and color slightly — about 8 minutes.
Then stir in the garlic and the beautiful-beautiful sun-dried tomatoes, and let ’em cook for just 1 minute.
Pour the quinoa into a big bowl, add the contents of the skillet, and stir to mix. Taste carefully for seasonings — you might like to add more salt.
Transfer the stuffing to an attractive baking dish, and garnish with the chopped parsley.
You can serve this deliciousness right away. Or, just let it cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. I found the stuffing reheated perfectly during a 4-minute sojourn in the microwave.
Think you’ll give this recipe a go? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you!
Here’s the printable:
A superior substitute for bread-based stuffing. Don't make me beg you to try it!
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or, use all olive oil)
- 2 fat leeks, the white and tender green diced
- 7-10 fresh sage leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (triple the amount for fresh, chopped leaves)
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- Garnish: 1/2 cup coarsely-chopped flat-leaved parsley
- Put the quinoa, vegetable stock and 1 teaspoon kosher salt into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower the heat, cover the pot, and let simmer quietly until all liquid is absorbed -- 15-25 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork.
- Warm the butter and olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, herbs, the remaining salt and grinds of black pepper, and saute until the leeks soften and start to brown -- about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic, and let them cook for just 1 minute.
- Tip the quinoa into a large bowl, add the contents of the skillet, and stir to combine. Then transfer the mixture to a baking dish, and garnish with the parsley. If you are not serving the stuffing immediately, let it cool, uncovered, to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Covered stuffing can be reheated in the microwave (4 minutes on "high").
Enjoy this recipe? Get my email updates!
How I Plant and Grow Leeks
Roast Turkey with Braeburn Apple Gravy
My Favorite Pumpkin Bread
Cary Bradley says
Brilliant and beautiful! and what a lovely gift from your friends. I kept thinking they were dried cranberries, which would have been fun too! Kevin, you are a genius. Thanks so much for sharing this new way to enjoy quinoa. Love it too.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Cary – It is indeed a beautiful dish. Hope you’ll give it a try!
Mary in Iowa says
That looks too delicious to save for the holidays, but I’ve been wondering what to take to the feast. Problem solved! I like Cary’s idea of dried fruit added to the mix. Will be making this tomorrow, and probably eating it all–you know, just to make sure it’s safe for everyone. 🙂
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Mary – You are right — no need to save this recipe for the holidays. It’s an everyday stuffing!
Kevin, I would eat that as a meal.
badger gardener says
Quinoa is on my list of things I must try and this seems like a good combination of flavors. I have sage in the freezer ready for Thanksgiving, but I think this year I’ll be able to go out and cut it fresh from the garden. This is the latest I can remember having plants still growing and I haven’t been offering any protection at night. I may have to work some kale and chard into the Thanksgiving meal too.
woohoo! sounds great, Kevin! Thanks for the recipe! I love quinoa. Happy Thanksgiving!
Diane Musgrove says
I love your recipes and can’t wait to try this one. I love Quinoa, Leeks. Sundried Tomatoes, Garlic, Onions, Parsley. How could the combination go wrong!
Aurora Culkin says
You’re emails brighten my morning. Thanks for sharing your Quinoa Stuffing recipe. It looks scrumptious and it will be a welcomed addition to my Thanksgiving repertoire:)
Hi Kevin..Boy, I could just smell this cooking!! I have never used Quinoa but you have convinced me to try this!! and to kiss my dog in the middle of it too..nose kisses are the best!!
some info about quinoa: 1) it is not a grain,
2) the 3 colours of quinoa each have a different taste. the yellow ones are the ‘mildest’, the black ones do taste the most like nuts and the red ones are in between.
with kind regards,
Peggy Herron says
My family refuses to eat quinoa but I am going to make this as a side dish over the weekend . Leeks sautéed in butter and olive oi,l sun dread tomatoes I bet they don’t notice the quinoa . Your Lousy Supermarket is pretty fancy I haven’t seen tricolred quinoa yet here in foody heaven Brooklyn . Love the addition of the sage for a seasonal touch and I still have a pot of it growing .
Will let you know if the “boys” go for it.
Lorena Keech says
You have managed to make quinoa look almost appetizing. But I’ll leave it for you and the birds, (sorry, to me it tastes like bird seed.) I’ll stick to the traditional bread stuffing…and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I will definitely try this yummy sounding recipe, but am a little disappointed that the printed recipe doesn’t actually say “kiss your dogs’ nose” at the right place – now, just to be sure I get it right, I’ll have to kiss my dog at multiple times throughout the preparation!
I love quinoa and I introduced it to my family last year. Most of them like it as well, apart from my Dad who at 82 doesn’t like to try new things very much! I was is looking for a side dish to fix for a dinner party to go with salmon and I believe this will work great. I’ll let you know. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas and information. Katherine
Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says
My dehydrated tomatoes are stored in freezer bags without olive oil. I guess I could “reconstitute” them with an olive oil soak for this recipe. I hear them calling my name from the kitchen… “Use me before I am freezer burned!”
And another use for Sage! Love it. My Sage is also lasting beautifully in this mild fall weather for which we are infinitely grateful.
Mary W says
Oh yes I will be making this. I always try to include some gluten free sides and a dessert so my sister-in-law can enjoy her meal, also.
I have an historic and laborious gizzard and chicken broth, sausage, sage, and loaf of stale bread stuffing recipe that we would make together with sips from our wine glasses as put this together after washing the slippery turkey guy in the sink. You have tempted me with this beautiful, nutritious and simple side dish! I will try this for Thanksgiving; no begging on your part! Thank you, Kevin.
This looks and sounds great as a side to any meal.
Judy Hines says
Perfect for upcoming Thanksgiving pot luck! Actually more than perfect!!!
Love reading your recipes. Delicious and delightful.
They do have a side effect on me though. They make me want to go out and get a beagle!
Kevin and Cecile – You will not have to beg me to try this recipe. I use quinoa regularly in a variety of recipes. Now I will not have to agonize about serving traditional bread based stuffing. Cecile, thanks for the clarification about the different quinoas. We will be continuing another holiday tradition this year – my 6 year old granddaughter will be a ‘bell-ringer’ for the Salvation Army at our local food-coop. She will smile their donations right out of their pockets 🙂 Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
ps – Could use my gizzard broth in the quinoa recipe?
What Peggy said about your Lousy Local Market being pretty trendy…I haven’t seen a mix of quinoa in my markets and I usually shop 3-4 different ones over the course of 1-2 weeks. My family is full of hidebound traditionalists when it comes to holiday meals, so I’ll just make this as a side and slip it onto the table. I can tell from reading it will be wonderful. Thank you.
This REALLY sounds great!!! I’m ready to try it. About how many do you think that
it would serve? Thanks for all the good tips and recipes.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Lois – It’s enough for 10-12 servings as a side dish. Unless I’m on your guest list.
Rene A says
Kevin – What a gorgeous dish! I envy your metabolism, but I can’t eat quinoa because it is too high carb’d and my body doesn’t do many carbs. Sigh. I can only gaze in desire at the pictures.
Thank you for the timely recipe pre-Thanksgiving.
I just know it’s delicious because when I’m done reading I’m drooling! FYI: I tried growing Quinoa this last year in my garden. I’m In the San Juan Islands of WA. State and didn’t think they would grow but I managed to get 3 huge plants for next years seed. I did try germinating some to see if they took off and they did! You have to buy the packaged seed (yes, I tried growing the stuff from the store but not-a-one popped up) so I’, guessing they treat it some how. So, next year I’m going to try a 4-Sister’s (Quinoa, white sweet corn, squash & beans) trial in the garden. Cheers!
Kevin – you are truly my angel. I have been scouring cooking sites for a side dish to go with the farm ham I’m going to roast for a dinner party. And then your bit of heaven in a dish shows up in my in-box. How serendipitous. How perfect. How tasty. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Pat in Canada
Jennifer Sandoval says
Hi Kevin, I am always looking for a new way to prepare Quinoa. This dish looks fantastic! I am not familiar with using leeks, so I’m thankful that you showed us how to wash/prepare them. My favorite part of your page is seeing Lily’s beautiful little face 🙂 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.
I can smell this cooking already. It reminds me that I will probably have at least one meat hater and a couple of gluten refusers around my table for Thanksgiving. Many thanks for the hours you spend in the kitchen figuring these things out so that I can make it look effortless : )
Lorra in California says
Thank you for this recipe. One of my daughter-in-laws is vegan. This will be a perfect side dish for her. The rest of the family will love it also!
We love leeks and sun-dried tomatoes. Your friends tomatoes look wonderful. Do they have any tips on preparing them? We had a fantastic crop of leeks this year. We put paper cups around each one when they were small to keep the light out. They were very large, fat with long white parts.
Love your site and look forward to it every week.
I’ll be making this for my family. And I will be sure to kiss my dog’s nose during the process. Thank you! ~Sally
If I sub dried sage, you think about 2 tsp? Thanks for a great looking recipe.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Christine – Yep. Sub 2 teaspoons dried sage for the fresh leaves. Enjoy!
This looks awesome. I noticed that a few people suggested substituting dried cranberries for the sundried tomatoes. What do you think about that idea? I’m not a fan of leeks (but I keep trying). What do you think about substituting shallots? If you think that shallots would be an adequate substitute how much would you suggest?
This looks delicious but can’t have thyme-am allergic. Can you recommend a good substitute to add to this great dish?
I don’t like quinoa and the recipe doesn’t look that great.
Then….I made it for a friend who just had a baby.
I LOVE this recipe! The flavor a and textures go perfectly together. Im sure I will dream about it tonight and will probably make it again tomorrow.
Also, I am planting leeks in the spring, just so I can make it more often.
Thank you for sharing!
Ann Mahon says
Thank you Kevin For ALL your recipes and inspiring hints ….you feel like a friend !!Just wanted to comment on your last recipe ,Quinoa stuffing ….I have been told that Quinoa is naturally coated with Saponin and should be washed well before cooking which can be by dry roasting the seed in an open pan until it smells nutty ….stir often as the wet seed is roasted,then add hot water the same quantity plus a quarter more put lid on pan and simmer till liquid is absorbed turn off heat and let rest 10 minutes as the steam helps the cooking process…….OR do I do it the hard way ?????!!! Love your recipe and will probably eat it as a main course !Thank you .Ann in London (across the pond )
Ann Mahon says
Just reading your recipes and the way you phrase the method makes me smile and smile !!!
I haven’t even cooked any of them yet…..you are such a friend Kevin and I just love all you do design -wise in your lovely home . Thank you …..hope you are smiling too !
From the other side of the” pond “….Ann in London
this sounds great and I think I’ll make up a small batch to serve on the side. My brothers would probably kill me if I did not make traditional stuffing but one of them likes the quinoa I’ve done in the past. Thanks for one of the best quinoa recipes I’ve seen.