Delicious Big Bowl - Quinoa

Delicious Big Bowl - Quinoa Recipe

I was on a quinoa recipe bender yesterday and here's why. There aren't many things more disturbing to me than a glance at myself bathed in the florescent vanity lighting of an airplane bathroom five hours into a flight - particularly a bumpy flight. I touched down at SFO Saturday night looking a grey-ish shade of green. While I'm usually a good sport about the bad air, cramped conditions, and packets of overly-seasoned cocktail nuts, anything beyond an hour of turbulence can put me over the edge. Saturday night we bounced our way across the Midwest like we were part of God's personal game of kick-the-can. The kind of turbulence where the pilot keeps interrupting the in-flight 'entertainment' with his best you're-not-going-to-die voice to tell the flight crew to strap in.

It's on these types of flights that I crave good food the most, usually just after they try to serve me a steamed stuffed red pepper of some sort. I start imagining what I will cook for myself if I make it back to terra firma. This flight I decided on a big, hearty, healthy bowl of quinoa as my first meal back in my own kitchen.

It was raining Sunday morning and I didn't want to go out to the store, so I started scavenging around the kitchen for things to go with the quinoa. Creamy-fleshed potatoes from the market last week, leftover asparagus spears (cooked by Wayne in a foil oven packet?), a huge yellow onion and walnuts. Plenty to work with. Quinoa only takes about 20 minutes to cook (give or take), so this came together quickly and I ended up with colorful, protein-packed, belly-filling bowl of deliciousness. I'd be happy to eat variations on this particular quinoa recipe everyday for lunch.

For those of you who are gluten-free, quinoa is a fantastic grain to explore. Also, for anyone looking for vegan recipes - this recipe will work for you as well!

- More Quinoa Recipes -

Delicious Big Bowl - Quinoa Recipe

2 cups white quinoa, rinsed well
4 scant cups water
1 teaspoon salt
a few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
3 - 4 medium/large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, etc)
1-2 cups lightly cooked asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments

another splash or two of good olive oil or citrus dressing

Bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil in a large thick-bottomed pot. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa opens up revealing a little spiral and is soft and pleasant to chew. If there is any remaining liquid at this point, drain it off and set the quinoa aside.

In the meantime, warm a splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the potatoes and a couple pinches of salt. Toss to coat the potatoes and cover for a few minutes to allow the insides of the potatoes to sweat and cook. Uncover, toss again, then cook a few minutes longer (uncovered) until the potatoes start to get some color. Continue tossing every few minutes to get more color and crispness. When they are cooked through and pleasantly crunchy, season to taste with salt and scoop out onto a plate. Set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to clean) warm another splash of oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they soften up a bit.

Toss the quinoa with a splash of olive oil, and serve each bowl of quinoa topped with potatoes, onions, nuts and asparagus. Alternately, you can toss everything together in one big bowl and serve it up family-style.

Serves 4 - 6.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 20 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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That is one beautiful bowl of quinoa! I've only been cooking with quinoa for a couple of years, and I'm always looking for new ways to serve it. Quinoa "risotto" is a favorite.


Love the 'you're-not-gonna-die-voice' description. I wonder how long they practice to get that tone down pat. Or do they just turn the treble knob way down.

Also happy to get the quinoa recipe - it's naturally gluten-free - a big plus for dd who has celiac.


Oh, I adore quinoa. I started liking it before I found out I had to go gluten-free, but now.... Quinoa and potatoes is an especially delicious combination.

So sorry about the flight!


i love the nutty flavor of quinoa, and with rustic sides like pecans and potatos, yum! much better than airplane food


Maybe I'm doing something wrong but when I make quinoa it tastes like earth. Like the dirt and I just can't eat more than two spoonsful.


This is a particularly welcome recipe right now because Quinoa is the only grain that Ashkenazi Jews who observe a traditional Passover can eat. With Passover starting on April 1st this recipe is very welcome. We love Quinoa

Bliss Siman

mmm, quinoa....everyone's favorite Passover grain. Thanks for this one!



When I think of earthy flavors, I think of beets. Quinoa doesn't taste like that to me. The flavor is mild and subtle, complimented by a unique, tender-yet-popalicious texture.

Are you rinsing the quinoa before eating it? Quinoa has a bitter coating called saponin, you need to rinse it off before cooking the quinoa. The saponin functions as a natural bird and insect repellant. Some packaged quinoa comes pre-rinsed.

If anything, some kinds of quinoa tastes a bit grassy to me (in a good way!) - perfect for springtime flavors...although this white quinoa I used from Bolivia tasted mildly nutty and buttery. More California Chardonnay than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, if that makes sense.


i don't know how i feel about the potatoes w/ the quinoa. i think something a little more sweet like parsnip would be nice.
anyway, i really appreciate your site heidi.. i moved to brooklyn from SF 3 years ago and i cook privately.. so i'm always using your ideas as a starting point. can't wait to get your new book!


It's 9.39am and i'm at work just craving this... the internet needs some form of smell-o-vision!

I can't wait to hunt down some Quinoa and make it myself!


A friend of mine made quinoa a while ago and I've been wanting to try making some myself ever since. This recipe sounds like the perfect one to try, it looks delicious!

Flights like that are terrible. It's so nerve-wraking when the pilot comes over the speakers.

Erica W.

Quinoa! and Heidi back! I hear you on the rocky flights, very happy to have you on the ground again.

The most amazing quinao experience I have ever had was one simple side dish of the stuff at Cafe Gratitude. I have never ever before tasted the grain so light and airy!

One of the managers shared with me that they make it in a rice cooker. But it tastes "steamed."

also, your doughnut post inspired me-- I made a whole afternoon out of making doughnuts yesterday. One of the "sugars" created had Mesquite Flour in it... as you can see you've inhabited my kitchen without ever putting even a toe in it. xo

shuna fish lydon

Looks lovely! I have never had quinoa. I hope I can find it at the market!

Thanks for the great posts!


This recipe sounds great. I don't eat potatoes, but I wonder if this recipe would work with butternut squash? If so, any ideas on how to prepare the butternut for this recipe? Thanks for a great site!


Yeah, squash would be nice. I'd cube it and steam it and then depending on my mood just drizzle it with olive oil or mash it.


That bowl's screaming for tamari.

John J. Goddard

My, but this sounds delightful! :) I'm going to have to hunt down some quinoa and give it a try myself. I've been craving a nice wholesome pasta meal lately...


Heidi once again you are right on time. I was wondering what one does with leftover asparagus spears. Thanks for sharing your kitchen with the world!


De-lurking. Lov eyour site, and very glad you survied the turbulance!!

Sara, The wine Makers Wife

Whole Foods carries Quinoa


We made this for dinner today. It was absolutely awesome!!!
Thank you for posting it.


I'll have to try this. I tried amaranth and hated it, though, so well.... I'm scared.

catherine Ross

I just finished writing my next post about quinoa, so you know I love this recipe.

Susan from Food "Blogga"

Healthy food porn... yum! What a perfect antidote to this week's gloomy weather. Adding quinoa to my shopping list...


How's it "proteinn-packed"? It's probably got about 450 cal/serving and looking like 70/25/5 carb/fat/protein macro profile.


Mike: It's 64% carb, 7% fat and 16% protein. I think the high protein content could come from the fact that, despite its resemblance to a cereal grain, you're actually eating the seeds of the plant.

There was even a study that determined quinoa to be the most nutritious food in existence (though I'm skeptical of that claim myself).


Your story about flying sounds awful. All the turbulence and the fearful captain...I can relate to you, it best to concentrate on something delicious like food. Your recipe sounds wonderful. :-)

All the best,
Monika Korngut

Monika Korngut

I'm sorry but what is quinoa and where can I get it? It sounds yummy but don't know anything about it.

Help please.

Betty Frost

i had it a couple of days ago, but in a rather simple and boring way. quinoa, salt. creamy FULL FAT plain yogurt. with some indian-style lemon pickles. just the way i like it!


I just made this and it was so good, very comforting and just the right thing for a cold night. Thanks for turning me on to quinoa!


I usually dry fry my quinoa before boiling it -- it gets rid of some of that grassy flavour. I fry it until it smells like burnt popcorn, stirring regularly so it all gets "burnt". Don't worry, when it's cooked, there's no burnt flavour!
My favourite quinoa recipe is similar to this one: fry up in a bit of oil any vegetables that I happen to have around. I often add peas, carrots, chick peas, etc to my quinoa bowl, and if I want it to be THE protein of the day, I'll add a scrambled egg or two like you would with Chinese fried rice.
My husband claims to not like quinoa, yet digs in with glee when I make it!


Hi Heidi,

First and foremost0- you are lucky you even got a bag of peanuts on the plane. Secondly, and I hope I don't sound like a total idiot but what is Quinoa? I think it is a form of risotto or rice maybe...Am I even close? It looks amazing and your recipe sounds delicious but I have no idea what it is? Help...


Hi everyone,

For those of you who aren't familiar with quinoa (keen-wah), it is easy to find at most Whole Foods or natural food stores. Or you can order it online - Steve sell it over at Rancho Gordo ( )

Here's a good link to some of the basic information about it as well on the World's healthiest Foods website.

Heidi Swanson

For anyone who has never bought quinoa, I'm able to find it in my regular grocery store. You might want to look around yours a little before you go looking for a specialty store. It is actually in two places in mine. In the ethnic aisle and in the baking aisle (I have no idea why!!).


You did not tell us exactly how you did the asparagus. I have been roasting mine with some olive oil and seasoning, but would like another choice besides that, boiling or steaming. Share the foil thing if you will, please.


You should remind people to wash quinoa in warm water before cooking it, especially if it's bulk auinoa. Some boxed quinoa has been pre-washed to remove the bitter coating.


Thanks Heidi for the excellent recipe! I was starting to experience food fatigue with my same-o same-o lunch. This will definitely be a new addition to my lunch routine!

Any other recipes you think would be good for work lunch? Esp things that can keep well in the freezer or fridge for a few days?



I love quinoa and am looking for new ways to serve it.

THank you for this.


Thanks for the wonderful recipe! This sent me straight to Whole Foods to pick up some quinoa to begin experimenting with.


I just tested this and it was so good, very comforting and just the right thing for a cold night. Thanks for turning me on to quinoa!

Chandra Bdr. Chhetri

Just made a version of this last night with Israeli couscous, throwing in tofu, red chard, and broccoli, and topping with Annie's Goddess dressing. Yum! Thanks for the idea. :)



Wayne cooked the asparagus the night before I got home. He typically tosses the spears in a bit of olive oil and sea salt, seals it in a foil pocket, pokes a few holes in the pouch to let steam out and then puts it in the oven for about ten minutes at 375. You want to cook it until it is just tender, not limp and soggy. -h


I have yet to find a food or flavor that doesn't go with quinoa.

I like to mix red and white varieties to add color and interest.



I've been reading/lurking around your site for awhile and finally decided it's time to say how much I love your work. Truly inspiring. I also tried your other quinoa recipe (the lemon scented salad recipe) and it was wonderful! (For some reason, I couldn't post this comment to that particular recipe). I added avacado (b/c I add avacado to everything) and red bell pepper. My fiance and I loved it, finished every bite.
Thanks for such amazing recipes and photography.


How do you wash the Quinoa without the little buggers getting washed away and stuck all over the place, I seem to waste as much as I eat?

Paula E

We made this yesterday, using toasted pecans for the nuts. The spouse found the dish a bit bland but that wasn't a surprise since she pours hot sauce on nearly everything. I though it was an awesome, hearty dish and I thank you for the recipe.


Mmm, Quinoa... Love it. We make a Quinoa-salad once a week, it's great.

Though, concerning the proccess of the cooking described, we use a totally different method, which is a little more 'blind' (since you can't open the pot), but we found it to be better:
Frying up the Quinoa in light oil for a couple of seconds (in the pot), then pour boiling water to cover it (one cup of water for each cup of Quinoa). Close the pot, let it cook for 10 minutes on a small flame. Then turn off the fire, and let it just be closed for another 12 minutes. It's more of a guess, but when well-timed the results, I think, are better.

Metar Heller-Algazi

I made this over the weekend--quinoa is now my favorite grain! Even my 15 year old liked it. I forgot to rinse it though, but it tasted fine. i'll rinse next time. I used red potatoes, not peeled. I think I'd add more asparagus next time. There are a lot of combinations you could do.


Yummy! I also used unpeeled red potatoes, and would go with more asparagus or maybe something leafy next time. Am eating the leftovers for lunch, cold with a splash of ponzu. Mmmm.


A very rare thing happened with this recipe--I had all the ingredients in my kitchen and I didn't have to go to the store! I love that. And the recipe was great. Very hearty, healthy and filling. I'm not a fan of nuts so I toasted some flax seeds and tossed them on top of everything and the nutty flavor was great! Thanks for the simple, yet inventive recipe.


Thanks Heidi,

I can't wait to try this! Looks great.


What an amazingly delish dinner! I made this last night and only had to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some potatoes. Much to my delight, I tried purple potatoes! They color combination that much more fun and the taste was very similar to yukon golds. I think I ate a little too much last night because I couldn't stop eating and I am looking forward to my lunch today!


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