Quinoa with Leeks and Herbs

Quinoa with Leeks and Herbs

There’s something distinctive about leeks that makes them uniquely delicious. I’m not sure what it is, but they’re not just any old onion. We’ve learned a lot about substitutions in cooking, but I truly can’t think of another ingredient that can quite capture their flavor. So when I saw leeks make their appearance at our local farmer’s market, I couldn’t wait to use them!

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

This recipe was intended as a stuffing for some acorn squash (another market find), but it was so delicious that we wanted to share it as a side dish recipe of its own. The flavor of the leeks mixed with the fresh sage and thyme made for a wonderful savory combination; we’d highly recommend using fresh herbs if you can get ahold of them!  And if you’ve never made quinoa, this is a great way to try it out – it’s one of our favorite nutritious grains (and gluten-free, if you’re cooking for someone that is)

How to cut leeks

Quinoa with leeks is very simple to make: the most involved part is cutting the leeks! If you’ve never cut a leek before, here is our tutorial. And make sure to watch our video below to see it in action!

  1. Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks and the bottom root.
  2. Slice the leeks in half length-wise.
  3. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then slice it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. You will likely notice dirt in between each layer of the leeks,
  4. Rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander, then shake them dry.

Video: How to cut leeks


Quinoa with Leeks and Herbs

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Notes: If you don’t have fresh sage or thyme handy, you can substitute dried. However, we highly recommend finding some fresh herbs to get the full effect of this dish! The rule of thumb is to substitute three parts fresh herb to one part dried; here we’d use about 1 tablespoon rubbed sage and 1 1/2 tablespoons whole thyme. Only use ground dried herbs if that’s all you can find; if so, you can use even less! This tastes best when the quinoa is freshly made, so if you can, try to time it so that you can serve right away.



  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 1 pound leeks
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Make the quinoa: Cook the quinoa following the instructions found at Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa, using 1 1/2 cups quinoa and 2 1/4 cups water. Or, use our Instant Pot quinoa method. While the quinoa cooks, complete Step 2 and 3.
  2. Chop the leeks (watch the video!): Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down, then chop it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. Rinse the slices thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts.
  3. In a skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks, and saute about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skillet and toasting over low heat, until slightly browned (watch so they don’t burn)
  4. When the quinoa is done, stir in the sauteed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Taste, then add more salt or pepper to taste, as well as a drizzle of olive oil if desired. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Oooh, going to make this but using some bulgur I have (need to clean the shelves before I purchase any more dried grains)!

    • Reply
      November 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      Great idea – now I want to try it with bulgur too! (My favorite of grain currently :) )

  • Reply
    November 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    That dish looks delicious–and I’m with you, I adore leeks.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    November 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Oh I love the idea of pairing it with leeks! I want to add some craisins in here too! YUM!

  • Reply
    Cathy @ What Would Cathy Eat?
    November 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Wow. This looks incredibly good, yet nice and simple. You should link it to my Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge! http://www.whatwouldcathyeat.com/2011/10/announcing-the-healthy-thanksgiving-challenge/

  • Reply
    tasha - the clean eating mama
    November 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I wanted to let you know I share this amazing recipe on my own blog – http://www.thecleaneatingmama.com/2011/11/tofurkey-day-1.html

    I love your site – thank you for creating such wonderful recipes!

  • Reply
    Gabi Rupp
    November 21, 2013 at 5:59 am

    I love these kind of quick and healthy recipes –
    just 3 main ingredients: Quinoa, leek and walnuts – Wonderful!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2016 at 12:05 am

    So easy, but oh so good.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    I was apprehensive about the amount of fresh sage and thyme this recipe called for, but it turned out to be delicious! Overall a nice way to switch up our normal night of plain quinoa. We’ll definitely be making this one again!

    • Reply
      March 23, 2019 at 9:50 pm

      Oh I am so glad that you enjoyed the amount of herbs in the recipe! So glad you found this one and that it was a hit. Thanks for making it!

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