Here’s a selection of easy quinoa recipes, including bowls, salads, pilafs, baked dishes, and more, to make good use of the versatile, high protein grain.
Quinoa basics: Quinoa seems like an established staple in the plant-based world, but here, for those who have yet to discover it, are a few basics:
- Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. It was introduced to the American natural foods market in the 1980s.
- Quinoa is considered a superfood for its complete protein profile and array of vitamins and minerals.
- Botanically, quinoa is more of a seed than a grain.
- The most common variety of quinoa grain is a kind of yellowish-tan, but red and black varieties are now available as well. They cook up the same way and taste pretty much the same as well; their appeal is mainly visual. Sometimes you can purchase a mix of all three colors.
See lots more in our Guide to Quinoa.
How to Cook Quinoa
The basic recipe for cooked quinoa calls for 2 cups water (for variety, you might like to occasionally use a light vegetable stock or toss a bouillon cube into the mix) to 1 cup grain. The deeply colored varieties like red and black (or the mixtures) seem to need a little more water, so make that 2 1/2 cups to 1 part grain.
Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve. Combine in a sauce pan with the correct amount of water. Bring the water to a slow boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Pre-toast, optional: Like other grains, the nutty flavor and aroma of quinoa is enhanced by toasting it lightly in the saucepan for about 5 minutes over medium heat before cooking. Stir often.
And now, for the recipes:
Easy Quinoa Pilaf with Salsa Verde: Salsa verde, AKA tomatillo salsa, makes a bold flavor statement in this easy quinoa pilaf. It has a somewhat smoky aspect that adds a distinctive flavor to dishes.
Quinoa and Cauliflower Pilaf with Nuts and Dried Fruit: Here’s a quinoa and cauliflower pilaf that’s simple enough to make for a weeknight meal and festive enough to serve at special occasions.
Quinoa with Black-Eyed Peas: Black-eyed peas and quinoa make a hearty pair, embellished with lots of flavorful tomatoes. Try serving this with fresh corn and a simple coleslaw or salad.
Quick and Colorful Quinoa Paella: Here’s a quick-to-fix, colorful vegan quinoa paella that’s ready in about 30 minutes. Paella is a Spanish pilaf traditionally made with white rice and seafood. We’ll do away with the seafood here, of course, and since we’re dispensing with tradition, let’s do away with rice as well.
Quinoa with Edamame and Oranges: Tiny orange sections provide a surprising burst of sweetness in this high-protein grain dish.
Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn: Colorful, easy red quinoa pilaf with kale and corn is packed with tasty and good for you ingredients. It can be a side dish or entree, depending on what else is being served with it.
Quinoa and Fennel Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries: Quinoa and fennel salad features the anise-flavored vegetable, and is made festive with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries.
Quinoa and Red Bean Salad with Mini Sweet Peppers: Quinoa and red bean salad is an ideal centerpiece for a meal, served with fruit for lunch and soup for dinner. Extra eye appeal comes from the mini sweet pepper.
Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn: Black beans, corn, and avocado come together in a hearty southwestern quinoa salad that’s good as a main dish or side.
Salsa Quinoa and Corn Salad: This cold dish is an abundant meal in a bowl infused with the flavor of your favorite salsa. A great main-dish salad, paired with simple soups or quesadillas, this is an excellent dish to share at potlucks all year round.
Pasta Salad with Quinoa and Corn: Corn and tomatoes give this pasta and quinoa salad a summery feel, though you can enjoy it any time of year. This is perfect for outdoor meals and potlucks.
Quinoa Tabbouli and a Nearly Instant Mezze Platter: A nearly instant mezze (aka Middle Eastern, aka Mediterranean) platter is centered around an easy quinoa tabbouli. Add olives, stuffed grape leaves, pita, and hummus, and you’ve got a feast, fast!
Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Stuffing: This roasted acorn squash with quinoa stuffing is the perfect holiday or special occasion dish.
Vegan Broccoli Quinoa Casserole: This easy vegan broccoli quinoa casserole makes for a dish that’s both nourishing and comforting.
Crumbles, Burgers, & Sloppy Joes
Walnut & Mushroom Beefy Vegan Vegan Crumbles: Beefy vegan crumbles are so easy to make from whole foods. These beefy-textured plant-based crumbles are made with walnuts, mushrooms, and either bulgur or quinoa.
Red Lentil and Quinoa Burgers: With all the great vegan burgers on the market, you might wonder — why bother making them? Two reasons: Economy and quantity. Red lentil and quinoa burgers are easy to make, tasty, and economical.
Pinto Bean and Quinoa Sloppy Joes: If you’re not a fan of commercial meat substitutes but still get a craving for something meaty, you’ll love these hearty vegan sloppy joes.
Fruity Quinoa Breakfast Bowls: Create your own hearty quinoa breakfast bowls with fresh seasonal fruits, all year round. Vary it with other whole grains — oats, brown rice, and more.
Peanut Butter and Jam Whole Grain Breakfast Bowls: Here’s a fun and warming way to start the day — whole grain breakfast bowls topped with apple, peanut butter, and jam.