Saffron-Raisin Quinoa (as Couscous Substitute)

Harvested Quinoa Seeds

Harvested Quinoa Seeds

By Cat, May 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Quinoa has become increasingly popular in the last few years, in part because it is so high in protein, and in part because of all the attention on avoiding gluten. It makes a good substitute for couscous, as in this recipe, with saffron.

Sprouting quinoa greatly improves its nutritional profile and shortens the cooking time; I highly recommend it.

Saffron-Raisin Quinoa (as Couscous substitute)

This recipe is adapted form Steven Cooks blog (1), where he uses this his quinoa recipe as an accompaniment to Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Moroccan Olives (1). It is also delicious with my recipe, Moroccan-Style Chicken, with Couscous (using the Saffron Quinoa as a substitute for the couscous).

I prefer to sprout quinoa before cooking, which requires starting the sprouting process 2 days ahead of when you plan to serve it. Serves 4.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa (raw. sprouted)
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins or currants
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • Equipment
  • sprouting jar
  • medium saucepan


  1. Sprout quinoa if desired (see above), starting 2 days ahead:
  2. Use a wide-mouth quart or half-gallon jar (depending on quantity to sprout), fitted with a mesh screen in the lid.
  3. Soak 3/4 cup quinoa in 1 1/2 or more cups water for 6 – 8 hours. Drain in fine mesh strainer, rinsing well.  Set jar upside down (at a slant) in a bowl, and cover with a cloth, because sprouting happens in the dark. Rinse through the mesh screen 2 – 3 times a day, with cool water. Will sprout in 24 – 48 hours.
  4. Cook quinoa: Bring water to boil; add quinoa, saffron and salt. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes if unsprouted or 2 minutes if sprouted. Stir in raisins/currants and carrot. Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, about 5 minutes.


  1. Stephen Cooks (blog) recipe: (

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