Recipe: Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

updated Jan 29, 2020
Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini
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(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

This crowd-pleasing lunch with quick-cooking quinoa is a cross between a comforting rice pilaf and a refreshing grain salad. Best of all, it comes together effortlessly. While your grain simmers, prep the other ingredients — then stir it all together. Done!

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

Pan-seared shrimp and salmon pair well with this quinoa salad, as does sautéed chicken breast. Or just top with a handful of crumbled feta to make it a light vegetarian meal. Use golden raisins if you can’t find currants.

Leftovers are perfect for tomorrow’s lunch box, or reheat any remaining grains in a bit of olive oil and top with a fried egg for a nourishing breakfast.

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A Week of Wholesome Whole-Grain Meals from Maria Speck

Tester’s Notes

I loved this pairing of nutty quinoa and sesame seeds — such an unusual but delicious combination. Cooking the quinoa with currants adds a sweet note that is balanced out with lemon juice and zest, herby fresh dill, and grated zucchini. It’s a great summery salad that makes a perfect lunch, and it’s great made a day ahead!

Christine, August 2015

Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


For the quinoa:

  • 1 tablespoon

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup

    chopped green onions (about 6)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    fine sea salt

  • 1 cup

    quinoa, well-rinsed and drained

  • 1 3/4 cups


  • 1/2 cup

    dried currants

  • 1

    medium lemon

To finish:

  • 2 cups

    shredded zucchini (about 2 small)

  • 4 tablespoons

    toasted sesame seeds

  • 4 tablespoons

    chopped fresh dill

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground pepper


  1. To make the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions (the oil might splatter!) and 
1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the dark green parts wilt but do not turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains start to crackle and turn dry, about 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the lemon until you have 1 teaspoonful, and then squeeze the lemon until you have 2 tablespoons juice.

  3. To finish, remove the pan from the heat. Stir the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons of the dill, and the pepper into the quinoa. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.

  4. Transfer the quinoa to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining 
2 tablespoons each of sesame seeds and dill, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Make-Ahead: You can prepare this dish a couple hours ahead and serve at room temperature.

For an Italian-inspired side, replace the sesame seeds with 
toasted pine nuts, use chopped fresh basil instead of dill, and omit the lemon juice.

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

(Image credit: Erin Kunkel)

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