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Learn how to cook fluffy, perfectly seasoned Quinoa to use in bowls, salads, wraps, or as a simple healthy side dish. Vegan & GF.
Last night a few of Brian’s foodie friends came over for an impromptu gathering on the patio. We grilled up some fish and farmer’s market veggies and had a fresh green salad, but surprisingly the dish that seemed to get the most attention was this simple quinoa recipe. And if I’m being honest here, the quinoa was a complete afterthought, made in haste because I wasn’t quite sure we would have enough food to feed a group of hungry men. A week later, when I saw them again, they still talked about the quinoa. So it got me thinking…
By now, everyone knows how to cook quinoa- for goodness sake; the directions are on the package! But I wonder if knowing how to cook it and making it taste good are two different things. So I thought I would share how I cook quinoa in case you need some inspiration in the quinoa-making department.
I love this Quinoa recipe because it is really versatile and pairs well with everything! I often batch cook this (make a double batch) on Sunday and serve it daily throughout the week- in different ways. See below!
Table of Contents
But first, What is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient seed that originates from the Andes Mountains in South America. Technically it is not a “grain,” but it is classified as a “whole grain” here in the states. High in protein, with zero gluten, nutrient-dense quinoa offers many health benefits.
What you’ll need to cook Quinoa
- Quinoa- use white, red, purple or tri-colored!
- Salted Water or broth
- Lemon zest
- Salt and Spices
- Fresh herbs are always nice
- Toasted nuts or seeds- optional but adds a nice toasty crunch!
- Olive oil.
Perfect Quinoa to Water Ratio
I find the best quinoa-to-water ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 1 3/4 cups water, for perfect tender, yet not overly mushy!
How to make Perfect quinoa
- In a medium pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallot in the oil, until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set half aside for the garnish.
- To the pot add the quinoa, water, salt, and spices and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover well, and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see that the quinoa has soaked up all the water and you see the steam holes. ( photo below) If not, continue cooking 2-5 more minutes. Once cooked, turn heat off and let it sit covered 5-10 more minutes.
- Fluff with a fork, place in a serving bowl and toss gently with lemon zest, sprinkle with fresh herbs, sauteed shallots and optional toasted nuts. Don’t over-mix.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
My TOP 3 Quinoa Tips
- RINSE: Always rinse quinoa in cold water several times before cooking to help remove bitterness.
- RATIO: Use 1 3/4 cups of salted water ( or broth) per 1 cup of quinoa, for perfect tenderness.
- DRESS: A drizzle of olive oil elevates it even more.
Ways to use Cooked Quinoa
- Make it into Crunchy Salad Topper
- Peruvian Burritos with Aji Verde Sauce (Vegan!)
- Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Chicken Quinoa Salad with Arugula
- Chicken Quinoa Salad with Arugula
- 20 Best Quinoa Recipes
Play around with this recipe and embellish it as you please. Perfect for meal prepping and batch cooking!
More quinoa recipes you may like
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side dish, vegan, gluten-free, healthy side dish
- Method: Stove-top
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
A simple easy recipe for Quinoa with Lemon, Shallot and Herbs- a delicious healthy side dish that is vegan, gluten-free and full of protein. Can be made-ahead…make a big batch on Sunday for weekday meals, or bring to a potluck!
- 1 shallot (or 1/4 of an onion), very thinly sliced – see notes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well, and drained (rinsing removes bitterness)
- 1 3/4 cups water or broth
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- optional: 1 teaspoon cumin
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use 1-2 minced garlic cloves with the shallot)
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano ( dried thyme, italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence, or similar)
- lemon zest from one small lemon
- a sprinkling of fresh herbs ( pick 1) Italian parsley, dill, basil, cilantro
- optional: 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds or pinenuts
- drizzle of good olive oil– optional but good.
- In a medium pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallot in the olive oil, until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set half aside for the garnish.
- To the pot, add rinsed/drained quinoa, water, salt, cumin, granulated garlic and dried herbs, and give a good stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover well, and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see that the quinoa has soaked up all the water. If not, continue cooking 2-5 more minutes. Once you see steam holes, turn the heat off and let it sit covered 5-10 more minutes.
- To serve: Fluff with a fork, place in a serving bowl and toss gently with lemon zest, taste and adjust salt, adding more as necessary.
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs, remaining sauteed shallots, and optional nuts. Don’t over-mix.
- Drizzle with good-quality olive oil
Quinoa will keep up to 5 days in the fridge or can be frozen.
When serving this as a side dish all on its own, I like to use two sautéed shallots, half for cooking with the quinoa, and the other half for sprinkling over the top as a garnish.
If batch cooking for the week, double the recipe and you may not need any of the garnishes.
Rinsing the quinoa is imperative. It really does help remove the bitterness.
If making a smaller batch or bigger batch, my general ratio of water to quinoa is 1 cup quinoa to 1.75 cups water.
- Serving Size: ¾ cup
- Calories: 196
- Sugar: 0.5 g
- Sodium: 294.8 mg
- Fat: 6.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 29.1 g
- Fiber: 3.4 g
- Protein: 6.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: how to cook quinoa, perfect quinoa, best quinoa, healthy quinoa recipe, vegan quinoa recipe, quinoa recipe, quinoa recipes, simple quinoa recipe, healthy side dish, vegan side dish
Thank you Sylvie. Love your attitude recipes Great tip. I always have a batch of tgese cooked quinoa and pulses. In addition, I do rice and roast a huge tray of seasonal and vegetabless huge tray. Makes for effortless meals and saves on fuel.
Perfect Kameela- yes, I love batch cooking for busy weeks!
I made this tonight and used vegetable broth with Italian herbs, garlic and salt. Excellent!
Great to hear Ruth! Thanks for the comment!
So good! I combine this with your recipe for kale salad so I get some extra green in there. And then sometimes add in some green French lentils for extra protein! Your seasoning is so perfect.
Sounds like a delicious combo. So glad you enjoyed!
Simple. Good cold or hot
Agreed! Glad you enjoyed.
Wow! This has to be the best quinoa that I have ever made. Thank you for another fabulous and easy to follow recipe. I had been sautéing some Shitake and oyster mushrooms with olive oil, fresh thyme and lemon so I put it on top of the quinoa. It was a perfect combination.
Great to hear Irene!
Does the cumin flavor overpower the other seasonings?
Feel free to go lighter on it if you prefer? You can always add more to taste. 🙂
I have shared this recipe with a friend who didn’t like quinoa because, in her words, “It’s tasteless”. This is a great recipe, and turns quinoa into a tasty base for other ingredients.
Thanks so much Helen!
Can you freeze and reheat this
Great question- I haven’t tried freezing it but I don’t see why not?
Would this be good served cold?
I enjoyed it cold too!