Delicious Big Bowl – Quinoa Recipe

This quinoa recipe shows you how I might clean out my fridge - white quinoa, potatoes, onions, toasted nuts, and asparagus.

Delicious Big Bowl – Quinoa

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!

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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 minutes - Cook time: 20 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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

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


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


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? Thanks!


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.


Heidi: 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.


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!!).


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

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...


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!


Heidi, 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 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'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

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

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).


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


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

Sara, The wine Makers Wife

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


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

Susan from Food "Blogga"

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

catherine Ross

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