Okra and Quinoa Pilaf

Fresh okra


batuhan toker / Getty Images 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
196 Calories
3g Fat
37g Carbs
7g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 196
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 421mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Protein 7g
Calcium 132mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy dish screams “healthy!” with its melange of tender okra, ripe cherry tomatoes, and fresh garden herbs. The water-saute method of cooking the veggies keeps it on the lighter side of things, making it a perfect dish to bring along to warm-weather potlucks. Feel free to mix up the base of this pilaf to your liking; brown rice, millet, wild rice, or any other grain makes a perfect substitute for the quinoa.

Recipe Notes

  • Seek out small, bright green, okra pods for best flavor and texture.
  • If you make a bit too much to eat in one go, this dish also freezes very well. Just place over medium heat on the stovetop, adding a touch of vegetable broth to thaw.
  • If you’re not a huge fan of heat, but love flavor, omit the cayenne pepper and cut the black pepper by half.
  • If you don’t have pre-cooked quinoa handy (I like to make a big batch and freeze the excess for times like these), then prepare quinoa before the rest of the recipe. To cook 3 cups quinoa, simply bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Once boiling, stir briefly and then cover, reduce heat immediately to low and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until fluffy and all water is absorbed.



  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (salted lightly)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 15 small okra pods (sliced into rings)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (omit for a mild pilaf)
  • 1/2 cup additional water
  • 1 teaspoon additional sea salt

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, combine the onion, garlic, celery, salt, and 1/4 cup water and sauté until translucent and fragrant, stirring often so as not to burn the vegetables.

  2. Toss in the okra, oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup water, and 1 teaspoon sea salt.

  3. Reduce the range heat to medium heat and let the mixture cook, covered until the okra is soft and the water has been absorbed, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Uncover and add in the cherry tomatoes and let cook until their skins are wrinkly, but not overcooked, about 2 minutes.

  5. Toss gently with cooked quinoa and serve hot. This recipe keeps well in an airtight container for up to 5 days.