Heather's Quinoa

Heather's Quinoa Recipe

This recipe is an odd bird of sorts, but it was so well received that I thought I'd share it with you. Heather, my sister was on her way over for lunch. Wanting to avoid a trip to the store, I committed myself to throwing lunch together using whatever I had on hand. Now, I rarely combine tofu with Italian-style sauces, but this (and a few other questionable culinary moves) came into play as I reached for ingredients from both fridge and freezer. Working toward a nutritious, somewhat balanced, in-the-realm-of-healthy main course here's where I ended up. In a sentence - a skillet of quinoa, corn, chopped lacinato kale and pan-toasted tofu tossed with a big dollop of pesto and finished off with a few roasted cherry tomatoes.

I'd make it again, and I might even make it again swapping in paneer cheese for all or part of the tofu. I happened to use quinoa here, but really, you can use just about any grain you have on hand. Wayne brought home a packet of ready-to-eat brown rice from Trader Joe's the other day which would have easily worked in place of the quinoa here. You could remix this a hundred different ways depending on what grains, vegetables, and nut/seeds you have on hand. Maybe I should have titled it A Quinoa Recipe for Heather, but I think I'll make it for her again (hopefully often), so from here on out I'll think of it as Heather's Quinoa.

Safe travels home Heather, miss you. -h

Heather's Quinoa Recipe

If you don't have the time or inclination to roast cherry tomatoes, substitute some chopped, moist, sun-dried tomatoes. Also, a delicious alternative to the tofu in this recipe might be paneer cheese which can stand up to the heat without losing its form. Vegans can leave out the Parmesan in the pesto and make it more of a basil-nut drizzle - still tasty, and a good fit for this recipe.

a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 shallot, minced
3 cups cooked quinoa* (or brown rice, or other grain)
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups kale, spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped
2 cups extra-firm nigari tofu, browned in a skillet a bit
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes** (or chopped sun-dried tomatoes)

In a big skillet or pot heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the kale and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pumpkin seeds. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4 - 6.

*Rinse about 2 cups quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and 4 cups water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

** To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt - pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mintutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

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

In my eyes there is nothing odd or questionable about this recipe - in fact the dish sounds (and looks) fab and exciting! I love the way tofu can pair with everything and anything, on its own and not as a substitute for something else.

p.s. Love the plate!


This week's lunch, I think. Thank you!


This looks delish. I love quinoa. Thank you for the recipe and the fabulous pictures. I think I'm going to sneek this in the hospital to my sister in law who just had a baby.....I can't subject to that nasty hospital food! The vegetarian menu is awful!


I just roasted up a bunch of orange and red cherry tomatoes, so plan to try this recipe pronto.

I also just made Nikki's cookies this morning and can't... stop... eating them! Thanks for posting it, Heidi. I wrote up my experience making them on my site.


Paneer would be a great substitute for the tofu.
Such a yummy sounding and rustic looking meal.


That picture is beautiful and the dish sounds yummy-very creative!


I love these kinds of recipes where you can change the ingredients with whatever you have around. I want to try it with barley or wild rice.

Fit Bottomed Girls

Sounds and looks so good!

Gina's Public Diary

We are having your roast tomato soup for dinner tonight Heidi and this would be great for a busy Monday night. Thanks again Heidi and hope your sister has a great journey. With this sort of food I should think that she would want to rush back actually.


How creative, that looks delish!

Aissa Galoso

that looks awesome!


Quinoa is so delicious, that only a pat of butter is needed, but treat it as if it were fried rice, and it is sublime. We are wondering if it could be ground into flour for gluten free Communion Bread to be mixed with butter and water, patted out, cut into tiny squares, and baked. Any ideas?

Nicky Smith


what perfect timing! i was trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight and just happened upon your new post!

i made a few adjustments, based on what was in my fridge (brown rice, not quinoa; spinach, not kale) -- it was delish!

thanks for such a good treat.


I have some cherry tomatoes on my table begging me to make this.


I bet paneer or even halloumi would be awesome in this. I love that you used pumpkin seeds where so many tend to use pine nuts. I love them, but they are all too often a go-to nut in these types of dishes.


Sweet jesus this was just what I was looking for you are such a mind reader


This is SO what I got in my CSA box this week. Can't wait to add it to quinoa (a family fave/staple). Yum!


Thanks for a really satisfying quinoa recipe.


I just wanted to say, your site has helped me so much with my goal of eating veggies on a regular basis. (Me and my hubby love brussel sprouts now! Who would have thought!)

And I just recently decided to incorporate whole grains, so you're going to help with that too!

Thanks Heidi!


Wow, this looks superb.


It does look good. I don't know where to buy tofu in this country (the supermarkets don't seem to sell it), and only quite like it anyway, so I'd probably substitute feta cheese, which I love in a dish like this (have you ever tried couscous mixed with cubed feta and roasted butternut squash? To die for, especially with a fresh tomato sauce on the top!).

Mrs Redboots

It looks wonderful fresh and colourful.


I'm thinking quinoa and Italian sauces would go quite well together.


This recipe holds an endless realm of delicious possibilities. I love the idea of using paneer. I live with a girl from India, so she might laugh at my unconventional use of it, but oh well! Paneer is amazing.


Looks too good!


Made this today with some Quinoa I had bought and didn't know what to do with.
Very delicious and satisfying. I used Feta because that was what I had, and it worked very well, and Spinach ditto. I also used some baby yellow plum tomatoes with some cherry ones and they looked beautiful.Thankyou for these truly inspired and inspiring recipes


I wasn't planning on hitting the store, but this looks very inviting, very delicious and so satisying. thanks...

I am new here, this is the first I have read, and my only regret is not finding it sooner...


Oh this looks like such a good combo of flavors. And, to top it off, I think I have all the ingredients in the fridge!

Really looking forward to making this!


Everything about this dish, I LOVE!

It's definitely on the list of things to try .. .

Thanks as always Heidi!


Nice recipe, very nutritive. I will try it as another use to quinoa, which I love. And it´s compatible with the Seignalet diet! Congratulations for your site, I find it very inspirational. I still have in mind your black bean-based brownie...Ummmm.


Not really on the subject of food, but were you aware that Heather and Heidi are really the same name! Heather is the English translation of Heidi and translated into Greek it is Erica!
Have a nice day

Heidi P

That quinoa looks fantastic and I LOOOOVe that serving platter!


This looks delish! What is odd about tofu and Italian sauces? One of my fave dishes to make is tofu parmigiana.


This looks delish! What is odd about tofu and Italian sauces? One of my fave dishes to make is tofu parmigiana.


My sister is a vegetarian and I'm always looking for new ways to impress and spoil her -- I think I found one!



Man oh man, but do I love quinoa! This looks great. I used to make an Italian style tofu stir fry with kale, tofu, stewed tomatoes, black olives and basil. Needless to say, I'm all over the flavours of this dish!

Plus, my partner hates tofu (sigh) so your suggestion of making it with paneer made me think, "Hmmm....he likes Saag Paneer, maybe I could make Saag Tofu and MAYBE HE WOULDN'T NOTICE!" Shameless, isn't it?

Choosy Beggar Tina

Can't get enough of your great recipes!! Thank you. I made the roasted tomato soup twice this weekend and Nikki's cookies for my grandkids (and me!!)
Looking forward to trying Heather's Quinoa.


I enjoy the art of art of tossing whatever is on hand together with oils, spices and other flavorful delights to hopefully get a masterpiece of a meal. Thanks for the new inspiration!

conflict geek

I made the salad today for lunch using a few substitutions. First, I didn’t have a shallot, but a leek, so I used that. I had arugula growing wild in my garden so I used that in place of the kale. I used zucchini in place of the tofu and I used the basil from my garden with pine nuts and garlic. I skipped the cheese. I am sure that it wasn’t quite the same as yours, Heidi, but I have to say it was delicious. I really liked the quinoa warm with the roasted tomatoes. Thank you for the inspiration. I have been reading your site for a few months and really enjoy it. I love your photographs; I wish you could figure out how to have them on the print recipe page. I am such a visual person; it helps me make a better final creation.


I had this for lunch both yesterday and today with chicken instead of tofu (for the non-vegetarians) and it was insanely delicious!


oooh this looks so yummy


I recently came across this site and have loved everything I have made from here! I love quinoa, so this will probably be the next recipe I try. Looks good!

HS: thanks for the nice note!


Whoa! This is great. Thanks for this recipe. I'll be cooking this for Mr. Sound.


Heidi, I love when you post about things that you threw together with whatever happens to be on hand! Sounds delish, what a great combination.


Ha, I agree with Rebecca (about the casual excellence), but the truly amazing thing is that it looks fabulous too.

Expat Brussels

I think your stash of random "stuff to use up" this week looked almost identical to mine! I was trying to figure out what to do with the dabs of leftover stuff - cooked rice and quinoa, some spinach that needed to be used, the last couple ears of corn from the garden - I made this last night and despite the "what is this" look I received from my husband, he had three (THREE!!!) helpings of this vegetarian meal! (That NEVER happens). It was an odd, but delicious combination - balances of sweet roasted tomatoes, slightly crunchy corn... amazing! Thanks so much!

HS: Glad it worked out Laura :) -h


This is a cracker recipe Heidi! I had it for lunch today. So much colour and beautifully healthful. I used roasted almonds to replace the pumpkin seeds I didn't have handy.. Bellissimo!
Many thanks from Down Under


This is a cracker recipe Heidi! I had it for lunch today. So much colour and beautifully healthful. I used roasted almonds to replace the pumpkin seeds I didn't have handy.. Bellissimo!
Many thanks from Down Under


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