Make-Your-Own Quinoa Bowls

by Holly on June 5, 2011

in rambling,recipes

I’ve had this box of quinoa in my pantry for at least five months.

Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa, to be exact.

And for the last 150 days or so, it’s sat there lazily on the shelf taunting me. Eat me! Don’t you remember I’m healthy? I’m a whole grain, vegetable and complete protein all rolled into one little grain for Everythingtarian’s sake! To that, I promptly reminded my friend quinoa that I devoted a whole post expelling its astronomically amazing nutritionals back in 2009. So please stop taking my Everythingtarian name in vain, thankyouverymuch.

Sorry I am lazy.

Sorry I’d rather eat coconut milk ice cream sundaes for dinner.

Sorry I’m too busy celebrating things like brats, summer on the boat and pomegranate frozen yogurt to actually cook up a batch of your nutty deliciousness.

Please accept my apology.

Make-Your-Own Quinoa Bowls

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 T olive oil
3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 (14-oz.) can garbanzo beans
juice of 1/2 lemon (about equal to 1/8 cup lemon juice)
3/8 cup olive oil
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t dried basil leaves
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt + pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, boil quinoa and water. Once water comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid.

Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes, toss in 1/2 T olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let cool.

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, basil, crushed red pepper and salt + pepper.

To serve, fold together chopped spinach, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cooked quinoa + spicy lemon vinaigrette in a large bowl.

Makes 4 large servings or 8 side dish-size servings

But my dearest quinoa, don’t let the simplicity of this recipe make you think my apology isn’t completely whole-Everythingtarian-hearted. This recipe is merely the basis for a whole slew of customized quinoa bowl variations…

  • Got an Italian craving to quell? Switch out the cherry tomatoes for sundried. Add an extra 1/2 t of dried basil to the vinaigrette. Swap lemon juice with red wine vinegar. Use cannellini beans in place of garbanzos. Bam! A taste of Roma right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
  • Looking for something with Mexican flava? Use black beans in place of garbanzos. Substitute roasted red peppers for cherry tomatoes. Mix up the vinaigrette with lime juice instead of lemon, dried cilantro instead of basil and cayenne pepper instead of crushed red pepper. Fiesta in your mouth, guaranteed.
  • Gone to the Greek? Keep the garbanzos. Keep the spinach. Keep the tomatoes. Add 1/3 cup sliced olives + 1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese. Omit the dried basil + crushed red pepper in the vinaigrette in place of a pinch of oregano + thyme. Don’t forget, Feta always makes it betta.

Really, this is the apology that keeps on giving.


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I love quinoa bowls – it’s the gift that keeps on giving long after it’s gone. Or not, because it’s gone and that’s sad.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm

the bowls look great…i could live on those roasted tomatoes alone. as long as YOU are the one slicing those little things not me..they slip around on my cutting board like little slingshots :)

Matt June 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Love the recipe!

Amanda (Eating Up) June 5, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I have had that same box of quinoa in my pantry for six months. I’ll take this as a sign to let it see the light of my kitchen stove.

Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing June 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Um. YES.

That is all.

Evan Thomas June 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I haven’t cooked quinoa in probably months. I used to so much in the Winter and now I have NO desire. It’s really easy to make in a rice cooker, too! Just pop and go.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

my last comment went into moderation..whoops!

Jenna June 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Mmm, great ideas for quinoa. I have a box sitting in my pantry currently as well. The greek version sounds pretty tasty!

Jess June 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Why haven’t I picked up some quinoa yet?! Gahhh. Whole Foods needs to happen soon!!

Carly June 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Oh man, I have the very same Trader Joe’s quinoa in my cupboard, and I think it’s going on 8 months since I made any… you have inspired me to actually break it out!

Katie June 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Apology accepted. Whole heartedly.

I have a big jar of quinoa in my pantry, and I’m excited to get it out and start mixing and matching all your great ideas.

Lauren June 5, 2011 at 11:21 pm

That looks very yummy! I also need to eat more quinoa… I just discovered quinoa flour today, it’s great for the gluten-free :)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Allison @ Allison's Delicious Life June 6, 2011 at 12:06 am

Mm this looks great! I really like quinoa but I never remember to make it. Thanks for the inspiration!

Lauren June 6, 2011 at 5:54 am

I have the same box of quinoa in my pantry too and I was just thinking of a way I can use it tonight. Then you come along with this brilliant idea and it’s a done deal! :) I know what I’ll be making tonight. :)

Erica June 6, 2011 at 6:55 am

Quinoa is pretty darn versatile! And how yummy do those roasted tomatoes look? I seriously think I could eat a few tomatoes every single day. So good. Great bowl of goodness. Hope you have a nice Monday

Sarah@The Flying ONION June 6, 2011 at 7:02 am

FABulous! I have been so into quinoa lately, so this is perfect timing. I cooked so much of it over the weekend because I also had a pantry full of it, and now I have been turning it into breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s actually pretty ridiculous. ;)

Hillary June 6, 2011 at 7:08 am

Mmmm! My dad and I made something very similar to this for dinner last week, but we used TJ’s Harvest Grains blend instead of quinoa. Simple, summery, delicious!

Elizabeth@The Sweet Life June 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

What an absolutely beautiful meal!

brandi June 6, 2011 at 8:03 am

love this :) i’ve been eating quinoa a lot lately, too. it’s so easy for lunches during the week!

Happy Monday friend!

Claire June 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

I guess it’s time for me to open up that bag of quinoa I bought at Target in early 2010 because it was on sale and “of course I’ll eat this and use it in every recipe!” I too shunned it for too long, and this recipe looks right up my alley: easy and Holly-tested. Thanks! :)

Marci June 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

I have been very into quinoa bowls lately too! My favorite has apple, pear and dates in it. Your photos are beautiful! I need to get better at photographing savory foods.

Gillian Young June 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

My quinoa’s been neglected lately too. I literally went to a friend’s house to make a healthy dinner last night and we walked right out the door and to a pub patio for fries, salad and drinks. Much better.

Megan (Braise the Roof) June 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Ah, I love the make-your-own concept. I haven’t made quinoa in a long time, either. And it always seems like a great idea when I’m at work, but then I get home and realize that I, too, am lazy and quinoa requires rinsing. :)

emily (a nutritionist eats) June 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I keep seeing a sad little bulk bag of quinoa and I keep thinking that I need to do something with it! Great idea Holly!

Tori (Fresh Fruition) June 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I love quinoa! It does take a bit of time to prepare, though, so I have a bit of a bag chillin’ in my pantry, too. Haha!

Sami June 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

weird! i just made quinoa salad this weekend too!


EmilyK June 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I had a very similar quinoa bowl last night! Quinoa + pasta sauce + mozzarella cheese + green beans + broc + Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs + spinach. Sooooo good and easy!

Sissy #1 June 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Can you just make it for me instead…

Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport June 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I haven’t made quinoa once since moving to Madrid. And it’s one of the “specialty” items that I can find here. Maybe your bowl will inspire me to turn on the stove. Maybe. I make no promises. Or apologies. :)

Kaleigh June 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

RIce bowls ain’t got nuthin’ on yo’ quinoa groove train!

Pure2raw twins June 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Love quinoa and love this recipe!

BroccoliHut June 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I’ve been shunning my box of quinoa for a LONG time too…guess I need to get on that!

courtney June 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm

this is such a great recipe! I love that you can make it greek, mexican, italian..whatever!! plus you could use cous cous or something if you are out of quinoa. Thanks holly!

Ted June 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I successfully asianifyed it. (That’s a word, I swear.)

The red peppers stay. The greens are out, replaced with bok choy (or in a pinch chinese cabbage). The dressing also doesn’t make the trip to Asia; instead whip together a little fragrant garlic (魚香) sauce: equal parts rice wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil (let’s say 2 T), letting some chopped garlic and ginger soak in and adding a little honey and Asian hot sauce (Sriracha or what have you) to taste. Replace the beans with edamame (or peas/corn if you don’t have).

Instead of baking the peppers and since the greens need a little tendering up, fire up the wok! Dump in a little oil. After the wok is hot toss in some garlic and ginger, it should sizzle. Add the leafy greens, pepper, and edamame and cook until tender but still crispy. Toss in the fragrant garlic sauce, give it a minute or so to soak in, and mix it in with the quinoa.

sheila @ Elements June 6, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Looks wonderful, and I think I’m gonna have to make it in a few days. I’ve got some quinoa in my pantry, and sadly, it’s been a few weeks since I made a meal with it. :( I love it…just been into bulgar wheat lately. But seeing your picture makes me realize I miss quinoa. :)

Alison June 7, 2011 at 6:54 am

You know, I have not had quinoa in ages. You make it look so damn pretty I’m gonna have to put it on the dinner menu ASAP cause… well, because I like to eat pretty things, that’s why.

Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola June 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Um this looks amazing and I love your substitution list! I too, have had quinoa just sitting in my pantry along with other “require effort” items like couscous and orzo. I have grand ideas for all of these, but often laziness wins. But TJs frozen quinoa with veggies that I just have to heat up? Always gone… guess I should try taking my head out of the freezer!

julie June 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm

i will love you forever and always if you tell me right now in this moment that you most certainly do not measure out 3 cups of spinach…

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