Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with
Quinoa, Barley, Kamut and/or
Other Grains, Rices & Lentils

Another Kitchen Parade Concept Recipe

Is your pantry overrun with bits of whole grains? Mine too. Here's a way to use them all at once. The base recipe pairs two familiar grains (quinoa and barley) with one that may be new (kamut). But the great flexibility here is that the pilaf can be made with any blend of whole grains, rices and even lentils. It's all baked in the oven in a single dish, so easy, so colorful, so tasty. It even makes a great "whole food" food gift for the holidays! PS Would it make a great addition to the Thanksgiving table? Yes!

Year-Round Staple. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Weight Watchers Friendly. Easily Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.
Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut and/or Other Grains, Rices & Lentils, another concept recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, just any combo of grains, rices and lentils. Vegan. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Year-Round Kitchen Staple.

Cooking Brown Rice: Revelations & Evolutions

What a revelation was that first Oven-Baked Brown Rice!

My goodness, that was way back in 2006! I even got permission from Cook's Illustrated to share their recipe and that was during the days when such things really did not happen.

And for a long while, I couldn’t get enough of that oven-baked brown rice – such nuttiness, such chewiness, such satisfaction. I taught everyone I knew how to cook brown rice in the oven.

But honestly? It got a little old.

So I started to add wild rice to the brown rice, Oven-Baked Brown Rice (updated). Once again the rice was something entirely new.

But honestly? After awhile, even that got a little old.

My body hungers for whole grains and the cook in me is determined to make them easy to cook and healthy to eat.

Adapting Restaurant Recipes for Home Cooks

Have I mentioned that I write a weekly column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch? Of course I have! Growing up in a five-generation newspaper family, I do so love seeing my name in print!

I’ve got almost two years under my belt now and can tell that when readers see healthy recipes, they ask for more. Last fall, Schlafly Bottleworks shared its recipe for what it calls Three-Grain Blend.

What a great-tasting grain salad!

But the cooking technique was fussy. Who has the pots or the patience to cook three grains separately? Would my favorite easy way to cook rice in the oven work with these new grains? Great news, it does, like a champ!

With a little variety in our whole grains, who can grow weary?

But First, What Is a Pilaf?

THE SHORT VERSION A pilaf is a one-pot rice dish (or some times a wheat dish) baked in the oven with spices and just enough liquid to cook the rice while keeping each grain separate and distinct. Vegetables and meats are some times added.

GLOBAL USAGE A pilaf = a pilau or pulao. The first is the American usage, the seconds are the British usages.

PRONUNCIATION Pilaf is pronounced [PEE-lof]. Pilau and pulao are pronounced [pee-low, rhymes with sow, a mother pig].

But what makes a pilaf a pilaf, exactly?

  • A pilaf is a one-pot rice dish or some times a one-pot wheat dish
  • A pilaf is baked in the oven with spices and a liquid and sometimes proteins and veggies
  • In a pilaf, the rice grains remain distinct, unlike a casserole, say, where everything smooshes together.
  • Want to know more? See Wikipedia, pilafs are fascinating!

Mix 'n' Match Grains, Rices & Lentils

What makes this pilaf recipe so practical (and a concept recipe) is that any combination of grains, rices and lentils seems to work beautifully, providing variety in color, texture and taste, all in one bite, all from one dish. Ya gotta love that!

Just be sure to use at least three different things since “three” seems to be the minimum number of grains for an “interesting” pilaf.

But Black Barley and Kamut are really special, worth seeking out.

WHAT IS BLACK BARLEY? Black barley is so dramatic in color. Unlike black rice which turns muddy gray, black barley keeps its color when it’s cooked.

WHAT IS KAMUT? Kamut, oh you make my heart sing! Kamut (pronounce kuh-MOOT) is a high-protein wheat that’s nutty in flavor and chewy in texture. I read (though am no expert) that some people who are sensitive to wheat can eat kamut without trouble.

SOURCES Purcell Mountain Farms sells both black barley and kamut and for that matter, quinoa. St. Louisans, look for kamut at Whole Foods but I haven’t found a local source for black barley.

Whole-Food Food Gifts

Last year before Christmas, I made my own blends of brown rice, kamut, black barley, white barley and then added black lentils, green lentils, Israeli couscous and quinoa; some Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend, itself a blend; then wild rice and farro and an “aged and reserved rice" that I need to learn more about, a gift from my friend Mary. Once I added the spices and salt, it made for great food gifts!

Just package 1-1/2 cups in a freezer bag or another container with these instructions for the gift recipient. "Place grain, lentil and rice mixture in a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish, top with 2 teaspoons olive oil or butter and 3 cups boiling water. Cover with lid or foil and bake at 375F for 1 hour. Remove from oven and fluff with a fork, cover and let rest 5 minutes. Recipe from KitchenParade.com."

Rice for Weight Watchers

Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf is a wonderful recipe for certain Weight Watchers plans, a good way to take advantage of the plans' varying "free" foods.

Freestyle – Use quinoa, lentils and dried split peas. If you like, throw in some cooked chickpeas or cooked beans.

myWW blue plan – Freestyle and the blue plan are the same, follow the Freestyle ideas.

myWW purple plan – The purple plan adds brown rice and other whole grains to the "free" list. That makes Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf extremely purple-plan friendly! A half cup is zero points, a full cup is just one point in the purple plan.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
Makes 3 cups
  • 3 cups water
  • A little oil, for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup barley, regular or black
  • 1/2 cup kamut
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, white or red
  • 2 teaspoons fat (olive oil, butter, bacon grease)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

Set the oven to 375F/190C. Bring the water to a boil. (I use a 4-cup Pyrex measuring bowl in the microwave.)

Lightly oil a 1.5 or 2 quart baking dish. Rinse barley, kamut and quinoa in a strainer under running water. Turn into the baking dish then add all remaining ingredients. Pour boiling water over top and give it all a quick stir.

Cover with a lid or tight foil and bake for 1 hour. (If the oven isn’t fully preheated, no problem, just put it in and bake for 1 hour plus whatever time remains to preheat.)

Remove from oven, fluff with a fork, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff again.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS Serve hot or let rest and serve at room temperature. For a couple of months now, I’ve made a pot of Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf every couple of weeks and keep it on hand for side dishes, a little protein in salads, a little starch in vegetable soups and – honestly – by the spoonful straight from the bowl.

ALANNA's TIPS While the base recipe calls for barley, kamut and quinoa, other grains, rices and lentils can be substituted. Just be sure to use at least three different ones, that's the minimum for an "interesting" pilaf.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 147 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 394mg Sodium; 32g Carb; 5g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & Points Plus 4 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 4 & blue 3 & purple 0

More Easy Unusual Side Dishes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) Red Rice with Tomatoes
~ more side dish recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ barley recipes ~
~ farro recipes ~
~ kamut recipes ~
~ lentil recipes ~
~ quinoa recipes ~
~ wild rice recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2012 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Khadijah11/13/2012

    Do you think wheat berries would work in this recipe? Thanks!

  2. Kadijah ~ Wheatberries would be great!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna