Yid.Dish: Quinoa, a Passover Game-Changer


It is apropos that the Whole Grains Council has declared quinoa as the March Grain of the Month, as we begin Passover on the night of March 29th. Quinoa, a rockstar of a grain in its own right with tons of nutritional value, made its debut as a Passover friendly grain just a few years ago, forever changing the way many people cook for the holiday.

According to the laws of Passover, chometz (barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt [BROWS to many who attended Jewish day school]) and their derivatives are forbidden. An Ashekanazic rabbinic tradition developed where kitniyot, legumes, rice and other similar products that are processed similar to chometz, look like chometz when ground into flour, or may have even just a bit of chometz in them, were also outlawed for Passover (many Sephardic Jews eat kitniyot).

As luck would have it, the law of kitniyot applies only to items that the rabbis were aware of at the time this tradition developed. This means that, you guessed it, quinoa is allowed on Passover! No longer were the Jewish people restricted to endless variations of potato dishes.

Enter, quinoa.

You still can’t make macaroni and cheese (although if you are a fan of potato starch/egg noodles, have at it!), but here is a wonderfully filling and delicious quinoa recipe.

For more information about the laws of Passover, check out this link.

Quiona Pilaf w/ Baby Bella Mushrooms & Crispy Shallots


1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced, divided
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup of quinoa, picked over
2 cups water
1 Tbsp chopped chives
2 Tbsp chopped roasted almonds


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a sauce pan and cook 2 shallots and garlic over medium flame until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 6-8 minutes more until they have released their liquid.
  2. Add spices, quinoa, and water, stirring to combine. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 12-15 minutes until quinoa is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Allow to rest an additional 2-3 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a small pan. Fry remaining 1 shallot until it is crispy and very browned.
  4. Garnish quinoa with crispy shallots, chives and almonds.

Take a gander at my food blog for more recipes.

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20 Responses to “Yid.Dish: Quinoa, a Passover Game-Changer”

  1. Alex Says:

    I’d love to see Jew & the Carrot do an entry on Kitniyot, and whether or not it’s a tradition that Jews considered about food issues should abandon and encourage the wider abandonment of. Not eating kitniyot is very problematic for vegetarians. What the heck are you gonna eat for eight days? Matzoh and potatoes? Bread of affliction indeed!

  2. Cocoa Says:

    Can you have Quinoa Pasta (I ask bc it has corn in it)?
    Intriguing post, for me. I have celiac so I can’t have BROWS (like that acro!) at all, ever. Certain “religious” people have said that if I had true faith I couldn’t have CD. But if these foods are outlawed during passover, it makes me wonder if they might be really wrong and it has nothing to do with faith and just a human condition. I’ll have to do some research on that!

  3. Rella Kaplowitz Says:

    Thanks for the comments!

    Alex–I will put together a post about kitniyot. There are many different opinions about whether or not we should or should not observe the tradition anymore, and in fact many people do not. If you have dietary restrictions, some rabbis may allow for a dispensation to eat kitniyot even if it is not your tradition to do so.

    Cocoa–I am gluten intolerant myself (getting tested for CD in a few weeks) so I have trouble eating a lot of things (and I don’t think it has anything to do with my lack of faith, for the record). In general, most rabbis will tell you that if you have a food allergy, since kitniyot is a rabbinic tradition, there may be dispensations for you to eat kitniyot even if it is not your tradition to do so (my sister was allergic to so many things when she was little, but strangely not peanuts, so our rabbi said if we made the peanut butter ourselves from unshelled peanuts, she could eat it).

  4. Lawrence Says:

    “As luck would have it, the law of kitniyot applies only to items that the rabbis were aware of at the time this tradition developed.”

    If only we were so rational! If Ashkenazi communities really held that way, we would be able to eat haricot beans (of which most common “bean-shaped” beans are varietals) and maize. Both are New World crops, and the tradition of abstaining from kitniyot predates the Columbian Exchange. At the moment we’re in the middle of a similar expansion of the list, and several kashrut authorities have decided over the past few years that quinoa falls under the category of kitniyot.

    For what it’s worth, at my house we’ll be serving quinoa at seder.

  5. Rella Kaplowitz Says:

    Great point Lawrence. There are other items that should not fall into the category of kitniyot that nonetheless many rabbis say should not be eaten on Passover. The concept of kitniyot has been and continues to be debated in many circles.

    Oh, and I will be eating much quinoa this holiday as well :)

  6. Uriel Says:

    Alex- there’s a whole swath of society that doesn’t eat chometz or kitnyos the entire year. They’re called raw foods vegans. If you’re a vegetarian and worried about what to eat during Passover, just grab any raw vegan “cook book.” You’ll probably find it more appealing than potatoes and matzah.

  7. Chana Says:

    Raw vegans eat raw chocolate and peanuts…

    But true, most things they eat are totally Passover friendly. And although people think of legumes as the ultimate vegetarian protein, lots of fruits, vegetables, and nuts are sufficient sources of protein.

  8. Uriel Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with chocolate, raw or not, on Pesach. ;)

    The point I was hoping to emphasize is that there are literally hundreds of types of raw vegan foods to eat during Pesach without dispensing with the beautiful traditions our Sages have passed down to us (and come one, it’s just one week people). And you’ll sound so hip… call it the “raw vegan Passover diet.”

  9. Michael Croland Says:

    I just read the comments here for the first time. I’ve been researching a massive kitniyot post for quite some time, and I expect to post it here tonight.

  10. Rebecca Says:

    Hi Rella,

    I really enjoy your blog. I’m looking forward to trying your quinoa recipe for pesach. How many would you say it serves as a side dish –6-8? I’m not sure how much quinoa expands. Regards to AK. I’m related to JW.

  11. Rella Kaplowitz Says:

    Thanks Rebecca, it’s always nice to hear that people enjoy my blog :) One cup of quinoa usually serves 6-8 as a side (if it’s not the only side).

  12. Dan Says:

    I bought Quinoa by solgot yesterday in supermarket in israel and it actually said for people who eat kitniyot. I guess the charedi world will make it kitniyot and it might then spill over to all ashkenazi people. So i guess there is a dispute on the issue.

  13. Rella Kaplowitz Says:

    It is true that for the past few years, the Orthodox Union has said about quinoa that you should “ask your local Orthodox rabbi,” which basically means they are not going to make a ruling one way or the other and each person should eat or not eat quinoa depending on their local community custom/opinion of their rabbi. The first year quinoa became popular in the US, many rabbis said it was inadvisable to eat it, but at this point, many rabbis say it is perfectly acceptable to eat on Passover and is not kitniyot.

  14. Lawrence Says:

    I suspect (and hope) that the novelty of quinoa in the western diet will motivate some push-back. It’s been more than half a millennium since a lot of the classic New World crops were introduced to Europe, Asia and Africa, and in that time lots of people have ceased to be aware of which ones are originally from which hemisphere. But quinoa, outside of Latin America, was virtually unknown until about 30 years ago. Everyone is aware that the medieval Ashkenazi sages had never heard of it, which is good logical ammunition against a new ban.

    Not that I’m completely confident. Part of the reason my family eats quinoa at seder every year is so that, should it make its way onto the widely accepted kitniyot list, we can claim that it’s our minhag to eat it.

  15. Tamar Says:

    Quinoa is pretty amazing! Botanically speaking, it actually has more in common with beets and spinach, than to wheat, rice or barley!

    I recently posted an article regarding quinoa at:


    There are a few fun recipes to try for Passover or anytime…

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